The Cable Center Customer Care Committee (C5) might be the industry’s best-kept secret. Under the auspices of The Cable Center, the C5 members—the top 11 MSOs and European operator UPC—meet twice yearly, take monthly conference calls and participate in Webinars where they hear academics and experts inside and outside cable.
For her C5 work, Suzanne Foy of Cox Communications, the group’s immediate past co-chair and Director of Customer Care at Cox, will receive CableFAX: The Magazine’s Customer Care Award later this year.
Below is an excerpt from an extensive interview CableFAX: The Magazine conducted with Foy for its July Top Operators edition. [The magazine will be available online Mon, July 26].
In this excerpt, the 15-year Cox veteran takes us inside C5 and argues that customers have higher expectations from customer service and that MSOs must make changes to customer care based on what they hear on social networking sites.
CFAX: The Magazine: Cox arguably is big cable’s customer service/customer experience leader. Does Cox benefit from C5?
SF: Absolutely. It’s great to have done a lot of things right, but this is a constantly changing game. Comcast really gained traction early with social media – and we’ve all learned from that. BrightHouse is using sophisticated call diagnostics to shape call quality and identify issues through the voice of the customer. Time Warner’s focus on optimizing technical support in both the field and call center advanced service support teams is really interesting. These are just a few examples. We all bring something to the table here, and we’re all learning from each other.
CFAXTM: We assume C5 sessions reflect the rise in the use of social media in customer care. Can you provide insight on the issues surrounding social media and the discussions on them at C5?
SF: As it’s continued to gain momentum, social media has been on the radar for a couple of years with C5. Many MSOs today are monitoring blogs to some extent to seek out and address customer issues. Going beyond that is the open question.
At our last in-person session, one of our featured speakers spoke about the broader impacts of “Web 2.0.” He defines this as the convergence of the millennials and the social media technology they’ve embraced. Two big shifts:
1.) The 2.0 generation looks to each other for answers via social networking. They trust their friends to understand them and provide the most relevant information. Our Marketing teams no longer control all the messages. Every experience the 2.0 customer has with our company sends a message to them and all their friends about how good we are and how much we want their business.
2.) They share because they care – criticism on blogs, Facebook, etc is trying to get our attention, tell us what’s wrong, how to do better. If they still care enough to complain, we need to figure out how to listen, acknowledge and improve.
CFAXTM: At Cox, you keep track of customer attitudes. Have they changed in the past few years? Has this change prompted a move from customer service to customer care to customer experience management?
SF: A lot of things have not changed – customers expect products to work, support teams to be easy to reach, and problems to be fixed right the first time. This is customer service. That said, customers now set their service expectations based on companies they do business with beyond our industry. And they’re raising the bar.
Multichannel is a good example. Customers understand multichannel much better these days and have done business with companies that do this well – products ordered on the web that can be returned to retail locations, call center orders or service appointments that can be tracked on the web, on-site representatives who can add to or change their orders.
They also don’t expect “one size fits all” service. Customers want us to tell them about products and services that meet their needs, want help content geared toward their interests, want notifications sent to their designated email, cell phone or not at all. In short, they want us to shape the service experience around them, not around our limitations or org structure. This is customer experience.
CFAXTM: Now that consumers arguably have access to content from so many sources, does this raise customer care/customer experience to a higher level as a differentiator? What has Cox done recently in recognition of this?
SF: In today’s world, company strengths and weaknesses are much more visible. Returning to the earlier question on the impact of millennials and social media, consumers shape our brand and our message in the marketplace. Cox can say we’re ‘Your Friend in the Digital Age.’ As a consumer, your social media site friends or favorite blogger will tell you if it’s true. If the message from your customers really echoes the message of your brand, customer experience becomes a genuine differentiator.
Recognizing the power of this and the need to understand and shape our experience with the customer in mind, Cox recently aligned all customer touch points under one Customer Operations team. The Operations Team under Kimberly Edmunds* includes Sales, Retail, Web, Call Center, and Field Service. As a united team, we share the goal of seamlessly operationalizing Cox’s vision to be the most trusted provider–end to end.
The Customer Operations team alignment pushes each function to fully understand the customer experience at each touch point and come together to define, prioritize and address challenges regardless of functional owner. Done well, this focus truly differentiates the Cox customer experience, delivering the value to the customer and the company needed to carry us forward.
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