It’s a rare company that could tempt us to bestow top honors on an overbuilder. But then WOW! (aka WideOpenWest) is not an ordinary operation.

“Service driven,” “doggedly competitive” and “obsessively focused on the employee and customer experience” are apt characterizations of the private, Denver-based provider of high-speed Internet, television and telephone services. The company, which is a member of both ACA and NCTC, runs on the philosophy that when employees are empowered, superior results spill over to customers and, logically, to the bottom line. It’s a formula president/CEO Colleen Abdoulah absorbed from her father, a restaurant entrepreneur, and is so enmeshed in the company’s DNA it’s hard not to cheer them on.

“Employees come first here,” Abdoulah says. “We’re not organized into functional silos. We go by the internal service structure, where it’s all about functions serving each other in order to serve the end consumer. Once you have the right people doing the right thing, you reap a lot of rewards.”

Results keep coming. Although it competes with Comcast and Time Warner Cable in four markets, WOW!’s customer base has swelled 34% since Abdoulah came aboard in 2002. “We stay focused on the end customer. What they want, what they need and are willing to
pay for,” she says. Satisfaction rates are soaring, too. The latest annual internal survey reveals 93.7% of employees are “extremely happy.” “When you’re getting rated in the 90s by employees, you should be getting those numbers from customers,” she says. In fact, she says customers gave WOW! a 97.4% satisfaction rating.

WOW! marked a significant milestone in January when it notched CLEC (Competitive Local Exchange Carrier) status in Ohio, Michigan and Illinois (it had already used its own switch in Indiana). With typical gusto, Abdoulah describes the transition as “awesome.” Newfound flexibility, control and accountability—not to mention dollars in the bank that used to go to gatekeeper Sprint—are enabling WOW! to realize cost efficiencies, enhance software and automate processes. “We now have 97.3% of orders go through without human intervention,” Abdoulah says. As a CLEC, the company now can hawk phone service to its commercial customers, an offering Abdoulah hopes to have in place by year’s end.

Fast Facts

WOW! has increased its customer base by 34% since 2002.

WOW! has penetration rates of 80% for high-speed Internet and 49% for phone service.

J.D. Power and Associates recognized WOW! as No. 1 in customer satisfaction in the North Central region for cable TV, Internet and phone service for the past three years. Back to 2008 Top Ops table of contents

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