Granted, Charter has had to focus on bankruptcy problems for the past couple of years but, now that its reorganization is complete, the operator intends to deal with its abysmal customer-service reputation.

Just last week, Charter was ranked among the 15 "Most Hated American Companies of 2010" by 24/7WallSt, sharing company with the likes of Toyota (think fatal car crashes), Citigroup (bailout recipient), and American Airlines and United Airlines (imagine being imprisoned on a tarmac for 15 hours). For the complete list, click here

Charter consistently has appeared on such "hall of shame" customer-experience lists for some time, and now the company plans to address it. The MSO has promoted Ted Schremp from chief marketing officer to executive vice president/Operations and Marketing, continuing his marketing-leadership role and adding responsibility for customer care, operations, communications and human resources.

Schremp replaces Joe Stackhouse, who acted as senior vice president/Customer Operations at Charter since 2007.

In addition, Charter promoted CTO Marwan Fawaz to executive vice president/Strategy. In addition to his existing CTO duties, Fawaz will add strategy and business development to his plate.

Speaking at Citi’s 21st Annual Global Entertainment, Media & Telecommunications conference last week, Schremp said, "With the organizational changes announced yesterday (there is a) very clear focus through our CTO Marwan Fawaz around strategy, the product roadmap, and marketing to service delivery. As an industry, none of us feel good from a customer-satisfaction perspective. From a Charter perspective, our relative position, even within that industry, is not what we want it to be."

Schremp intends not only to make improvements in service delivery and other areas of the customer experience, but to look at these improvements as a strategic asset.

"We want to turn it into something that, over time, becomes a net asset as opposed to the drag it’s been for us and for the industry," he said.

Despite its overall customer-service woes, Schremp said Charter is having luck with its home-networking offering – which is a kind of customer service. "We’ve got a third of our new broadband customers taking home networking from us," he said. "Even though customers could buy a $30 or $40 router and set up their own home networks, they’re paying us $10 a month for that service."

DOCSIS, Usage Pricing

In other updates, Schremp noted, "We’re probably 12 to18 months behind some of our peers in terms of DOCSIS 3.0 deployments, SDV deployments and, in turn, HDTV capacity. We’re about 55-percent complete on our DOCSIS 3.0 deployment through the end of the year."

And the cableco also is considering usage-based pricing.

"Certainly Charter has implemented bandwidth thresholds primarily designed to deal with abusers," Schremp said. "We began actively enforcing them in the fourth quarter. The way I look at usage-based pricing, I think it’s a unique opportunity to further differentiate across our product portfolio.”

He continued, “Today we go from a 1 Meg product at $20 all the way up to a 60 Meg product at $100. We primarily use speed as the way we differentiate between each of the tiers in between. I think there’s an opportunity over time, particularly at the low end, to use usage-based pricing as a way to deliver higher speeds at lower price points, based around particular consumer-use cases."

Linda Hardesty

The Daily

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