You can find examples of senior executives at large cable companies periodically spending time in the field, meeting customers face-to-face. Others, like Insight president Dinni Jain, routinely monitor subscriber service calls.
Coaxial Cable GM Chris Lovell doesn’t merely monitor calls, he answers them. When you have just two full-time customer service reps, plus one part-timer, the general manager must help. "Often I am sitting at the front counter answering phones and speaking with our customers," he tells us. And, yes, Lovell augments his service staff of three technicians and one chief tech by occasionally grabbing tools and making service calls at the homes of his 4,000 subs in the Cambridge Springs, PA, area, 85 miles from Pittsburgh. Lovell’s a world apart from Jain, right? Not really. "I believe in keeping in touch, good or bad, with our customers so that I can stay on top of all the issues," Lovell says. Jain would agree.
But Coaxial’s small size hasn’t prevented Lovell from having big ideas. Three years ago, well before this year’s digital transition, Coaxial decided to become an all-digital system. “We are a 550 MHz system and we had pushed our bandwidth to its maximum,” Lovell says. “We had no available channels to add service of any nature. By going 100% digital we freed up better than half our bandwidth …to allow us to offer VOD, greater Internet speeds, more channels and other services.” After examining the wares and prices of vendors, Lovell and his team decided to choose Transparent Video Systems as its digital provider. “We were able to show the long-term savings of going all digital. Instead of spending $3-$4 million to rebuild, we decided that we could make better use of our cable system by going 100% digital at a cost of about $1.5 million.”
Needless to say, this was a huge undertaking for a small team. “Every staff member was 100% behind what we were doing and worked to make sure that on May 1 no customers were left without service,” he says proudly. The nal push began in April 2009. “Yes, we kept the office open much later than normal answering calls,” he says. “And my technical staff worked late into the night making sure that every customer who called in saying they had no service was taken care of and was back in service.” That’s awardwinning service for sure.