As a consumer, when you pay for a service, you expect the provider to follow through on reliability promises, be it with cellular service, home security monitoring, internet connectivity or cable TV.
Waiting on hold to schedule a repair visit is never an enjoyable experience.
Which is one reason Spectrum/Charter Communications has ramped up its nationwide Proactive Maintenance program, where equipment monitoring is alerting customers to potential issues before there is a service interruption.
Basically it’s the check engine warning light before the light comes on for the customer.
“Using new technologies allows us to monitor our devices to find any anomalies,” said Jim Goodfellow, Rochester-based area vice president of field operations for Charter Communications. “There could be an impairment that is about to impact service and this can head it off and improve the customer experience.”
The program began last year and has rolled out across the 41 states where Charter Communications provides cable and internet services. Approximately 600,000 proactive service calls were made last year, and the company expects to schedule close to one million this year.
Remote monitoring may indicate there is a flaw in a cable causing periodic interruptions or is impacting performance. The company then contacts the customer through their preferred method of communication — either a text, phone or email — to say a potential issue has been detected and offers to schedule an appointment.
A technician is then dispatched to determine the cause of the alert.
“The telemetry gives us technical data that can evaluate the performance of the network, but that performance doesn’t necessarily tell us it’s the fitting in the kitchen of that TV or the fitting to the modem entering the house,” Goodfellow said. “We check everything from the internal wiring all the way out to the connection at the pole.”
He said technicians and customers are receptive to the idea.
“By in large the technicians seem to prefer to do these type of calls because we’re improving the customer experience,” Goodfellow said. “They’re happy that we’re out there rather than maybe being upset that their service wasn’t working.
“I think this is redefining how customers are serviced in the industry. We want to flip it around and improve the customer experience so they aren’t calling us. The company is investing a lot up front, saying ‘We’re going to head these problems off before the customer calls us.’ ”
The ultimate goal, Goodfellow said, is to do more proactive diagnostics than reactive work. “It’s a new way to serve the industry and improve the customer experience.”
Goodfellow oversees approximately 500 technicians in Western New York, from the Rochester metro area west to Buffalo. There are around 1,200 total employees in the region.
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