Will Customer Service Ever Cease Being an Issue for Access Providers?

Comcast customer service scores are improving--apparently by substantial amounts-- in Oregon, where Comcast has been testing new procedures and processes to improve customer service, the company says.  Comcast says complaints have dropped 25 percent in two years.

Oddly enough, one of the changes involves a new use for an old trouble-detecting mechanism. Decades ago, a cable operator would learn it has a problem because trouble calls started to pour in. Now, in a new way, Comcast monitors one specific behavior--customers using speed test apps--as an indicator it might have a problem in a neighborhood.

It really is not easy being a network-based service provider of any type, whether the service is electricity, mobile or fixed phone service, internet access or linear subscription video.

For years, customer satisfaction scores for internet access service and linear TV have been at the bottom of industry rankings, though there are signs of improvement, recently. That seems to always be the case.

Other “recurring services,” such as electrical utilities, fixed network voice or mobile phone service, also score relatively worse than many other types of products.

It never is so clear to me why that is the case, though any number of possibilities exist. Given the number of hours a television is used (often on in the background, and perhaps not being actively and intently watched), any network outage is going to have a higher chance of being noticed than if a fixed phone line drops. People do not actively use fixed line phones that many minutes per day, and an outage can occur without user awareness that has happened.

Others might suggest the “problem” is the recurring bill, a monthly reminder that a customer is paying for a product where there is some unhappiness with the value proposition.

Poor customer service can be an issue in any business where billing errors are likely to be common, as is any communications service with usage charges. Mobile service providers a decade or two ago had somewhat more common failures in that regard, though most of us would agree that customer service has gotten quite a lot better.

Internet access provider might suffer from the instability of IP connections generally, as well as the somewhat disparate experiences across the day. Wi-Fi channel performance also tends to vary significantly, all of which can lead to a user experience that seems--and is--unstable or disparate.

That does not help.

2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017
72
74
73
68
71
70
68
68
71
69
69
69
69
68
72
69
68
68
67
69
70
67
67
67
NM
NM
NM
NM
65
66
NM
NM
NM
NM
67
66
66
66
68
65
63
65
69
68
69
66
66
64
59
61
63
60
54
62
NM
NM
NM
NM
57
62
59
59
64
60
63
60
67
63
65
63
62
59
59
63
60
56
51
59
NM
NM
NM
NM
51
54
source: ACSI
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