Cable customers who believe they are being treated with respect will extol the operator to their friends while at the same time buying new products and services. But it only takes one bad customer-service experience to make those aged 24 to 29 think about churning.

Results of a survey conducted last month by Frost & Sullivan and released today by CSG Systems International found that these young cable customers have a low tolerance for what they perceive to be bad behavior. The top three bad customer-service experiences cited were:

  • being put on hold for an extended period of time (noted by 68 percent of respondents),
  • rude or impolite customer-service reps (again, noted by 68 percent of respondents) and
  • being told an issue had been resolved when it really wasn’t (63 percent).

On the flip side, a friendly customer-service rep provides part of the stickiness that keeps cable subs in the fold. More than 10 percent of survey respondents said they would write about a good customer-service experience on social-media sites, while more than 20 percent said they would write about a bad one.

CSG bills itself as a “customer interaction company” that works predominately with cablecos on bill and customer-care issues. It commissioned this recent survey to gauge “the positive and negative stuff that pushes customers to take some kind of action,” said Rob Kunzler, VP of marketing. “We also wanted to know how customers buy new products and services and their willingness to share personal information in return for special offers or discounts.”

The survey found that the twenty-something cable subs learn about and buy cable products and services in a variety of ways, with email notifications and offers being first on the list (65 percent), followed by signing up on a Web site. Surprisingly, nearly 40 percent still prefer to learn about new services via snail mail.

In addition, 21 percent said they would take advantage of special pricing or coupons if they were offered via the set-top box, while 16 percent would respond to offers via social-media sites. SMS is the preferred medium by 9 percent, and 32 percent would respond to regular email offers.

Cablecos that want to offer targeted advertising need to come up with plans to make “opting in” more palatable. It appears that only those subscribers who are in frequent touch with their cable providers (at least one call per month) would be willing to share their service preferences for a 2-percent or 3-percent discount. Most respondents said they would need to receive higher discounts – 10 percent to 15 percent – in return for personal information. CSG did not, however, ask for information on any pricing incentives.  

“With the variety of communications channels at their disposal, cable operators are in a unique position to reach customers according to preferences,” noted Dan Colquhoun, VP/customer research at Frost & Sullivan. “As we see from survey results, leveraging those channels appropriately can foster interactions with consumers that net out in recommendations of the service to friends, increased buying and reducing customer churn.”

Kunzler said the results of this survey now would be shared with his company’s cable clients as they “explore new strategies.” He added, “This will be a thought-leadership vehicle for us.”

-Debra Baker

The Daily

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