Putting Customers at the Center of Charter’s Brand Experience

Customers were the focal point of Charter Communications ’ campaign surrounding the digital transition, but this stakeholder group is front and center in the company’s other marketing/communications initiatives as well. Case in point: When Joe Stackhouse joined Charter as SVP of customer operations in 2007, one of the first things he did was read every customer e-mail and letter he could get his hands on. In doing so, he realized his team members “were struggling on the day that the customer had an appointment...there were problems we couldn’t pinpoint and the [customer service] agents didn’t have the tools to fix things.” The solution was to create a pilot DOS team: customer service providers who were charged with improving subscribers’ experience with Charter on their “Day of Service” (DOS)—the day of their scheduled appointments. Often, that’s the day of an install or a customer’s first cable “touch.” The DOS, then, was comprised of agents “well trained to handle that moment of truth.” The pilot team was based in Charter’s Worcester, Mass., call center. The next step was deploying technology so the customer who has an appointment scheduled has his/her call routed seamlessly to the DOS team, bypassing the standard interactive voice response system. The pilot program worked so well that a second DOS team was formed in 2008, in the company’s Louisville, Ky., call center. In all, 150 of Charter’s 8,000 agents are DOS team members. “We just don’t have DOS problems anymore...it’s been an important step in improving the experience of our customers,” Stackhouse says. Even in this sluggish economy, Stackhouse has found there is enough work for his DOS agents. “We forecast about 90 days out,” he says. “The work is still there,” he says, noting DOS agents are handling not only primary installs but also triple-play installs and repair. Never one to rest on his laurels, Stackhouse says his top priority ahead is first-contact resolution: “really understanding what is driving customers to have to contact us more than once or necessitate an additional truck roll.” Basing its response on the DOS success, Charter has formed a pilot team that deals with first-contact resolution. When a customer calls in more than once during a three-day period the caller is routed, again seamlessly, to a team of agents specially trained to solve the problem and not have the customer call again. [Note: Charter Communications won a 2009 CableFAX: The Magazine Top Ops Awards in the Customer Service category for this campaign. CableFAX is a sister publication of PR News.]

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