Time Warner Cable plans to improve its customer service record by rolling out computer telephony integration technology to ten markets this year. The software is designed to help Time Warner representatives handle calls faster and sell additional products. Time Warner will expand this technology, which routes customer calls to specialists and instantaneously sends appropriate customer data to the representative, to all of its markets in 2004. While the technology itself is not new, it has been slow to come to cable because of closed billing systems and the decentralized nature of the industry, says David Temlak, TWC’s SVP of customer care. “In the cable industry, it’s just really starting to catch on,” he says. “We have to do this if only because that’s what the customers need.” In the two markets testing the technology — Greensboro, N.C., and Cincinnati — customer call time has been reduced by 15 seconds, according to the company. In Greensboro the technology has helped its customer service representatives sell 24% more digital subscriptions and 53% more high-speed data connections in the first seven months of this year compared with the same period last year, says Dianne Blackwood, Greensboro’s VP of customer care. Greensboro launched the technology in December. TWC is working with several telephony integration technology vendors, including Avaya Inc. Los Angeles and New York are among the next systems to receive this technology by year-end. While a few operators, such as Cox Communications, have already adopted this technology, most of the MSOs are still testing integration, Temlak says. Complex integration of other divisions such as marketing and advertising is also being tested by Cox and Comcast Corp. Several cable operators contacted about this technology weren’t available to comment by press time. The technology — part of TWC’s $30 million investment in national customer care improvements in 2003 — helped Greensboro land the No. 1 title for customer service in TWC’s latest semiannual internal survey of all systems. TWC expects to spend at least another $30 million on a national level next year to help create the ultimate integrated system within three years, Temlak says. TWC nationwide ranked seventh in the 2003 customer satisfaction study of cable and satellite television services released by J.D. Power and Associates last week. Aside from Cox and Cable One, all other cable operators ranked lower than Time Warner Cable.

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