Waiting For The Cable Guy Hits Pocketbook: Study

When cable and telco technicians miss an appointment window, customers not only get royally annoyed -- it makes them feel like they're losing real income.

American consumers wait for service appointments from cable, satellite, telco, utility and other providers on average for 4.3 hours, which is 2.5 hours longer than they expected, according to a survey commissioned by TOA Technologies, a provider of mobile workforce management software.

In the U.S., the average individual cost of waiting is $243 per year, according to the TOA survey. That amounts to a total cost of $37.7 billion for the total time spent waiting for in-home services, when applied to the entire American workforce. About 27% of those surveyed said they lost wages and 50% wasted a sick day or vacation day to wait at home for a service or delivery.

Of course, if a service technician needs to perform work inside a customer's premises, there's no way around the need for a homeowner to be present. But TOA CEO Yuval Brisker said on-time performance can go a long way toward making consumers happier.

The TOA survey found that 70% of respondents said they would recommend a company if an appointment was on time -- but that drops to 27% if a service technician is 15 minutes late.

The longer a technician is late, the more likely it becomes that customers will start griping online: After waiting for one hour, almost half of respondents (49%) said they would have posted a complaint on a social media.

"People are more vocal now," Brisker said. "They're going on social media to complain about their service."

TOA claims it has a solution that directly addresses the issue of missed service windows. The network-based software dynamically assigns a technician with the right skill set and truck inventory to a given job, based on location and time parameters.

Major U.S. customers of TOA include Cox Communications, Cablevision Systems, Bright House Networks, Suddenlink Communications and Cincinnati Bell. Competitors in the workforce-management area include Arris, CSG Systems and Ventyx.

The online survey was conducted on behalf of TOA by IBOPE Zogby from Sept. 9 to 15, 2011. The firm interviewed 1,026 U.S. adults who said they waited for at least one service or delivery appointment in the previous 12 months. The margin of error is 3.2 percentage points.