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Charter CEO Samples Grunt Work
Walks a little in the shoes of techs & CSRs
by Karl Bode 11:49AM Tuesday Jul 17 2007
We just mentioned how Charter continues to rank at the very bottom of most consumer satisfaction reports. It doesn't help matters that they don't have the money to upgrade a significant chunk of their network.

Click for full size
Charter's CEO Neil Smit tells the St. Louis Post Dispatch that improving customer service is the company's top priority, and he's getting personally involved with tech support to understand customer gripes:
quote:
Since Smit took over, Charter has increased the number of customer-service representatives it employs by 55 percent and restructured its technician dispatch system to run more efficiently and reduce wait times. Smit personally has gone out on service runs and sat with a headset at a call center to see the company from the ground up and understand what customers experience. He's ordered his chief financial officer, general counsel and other executives to do the same.
Back in May, Charter got a PR black eye when a tech publicly stated the company's tech tracking systems stunk and that CSRs were simply making up technician ETAs when asked by customers. It's nice to a CEO mixing it up with us regular folk, but the proof will be in the pudding.

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Boricua
Premium
join:2002-01-26
Sacramuerto

Stepping up

I'm glad someone is stepping up to the plate. Too many times, CEOs are too "busy" to even know what's going on in the real world of tech support. It's good to know this CEO wants to understand why things are not working.

ninjatutle
Premium

join:2006-01-02
San Ramon, CA

Re: Stepping up

CEO = Poser

KrK
Heavy Artillery For The Little Guy
Premium
join:2000-01-17
Tulsa, OK

Not a bad idea

This isn't a bad idea at all. Have them answer a few calls themselves. Have them go out (in regular uniform) on a few calls, talk to the customers.

It's an interesting idea. Also, perhaps they should poll their CSR's and techs with anonymous surveys (ones where the CSR or Tech doesn't have to log their name or SSN or ID# etc so they can be frank and honest with their responses free from fear of retaliation by supervisors or Office manager.)
--
"Regulatory capitalism is when companies invest in lawyers, lobbyists, and politicians, instead of plant, people, and customer service." - former FCC Chairman William Kennard (A real FCC Chairman, unlike the current Corporate Spokesperson in the job!)

Maxo
Your tax dollars at work.
Premium,VIP
join:2002-11-04
Tallahassee, FL

Re: Not a bad idea

The best bosses I've had are the ones that work along side me. The worst are those that have no clue how to do my job.

KrK
Heavy Artillery For The Little Guy
Premium
join:2000-01-17
Tulsa, OK

Re: Not a bad idea

said by Maxo:

The best bosses I've had are the ones that work along side me. The worst are those that have no clue how to do my job.
Yeah... but they insist on Micromanaging you anyway.

Our company for years has been cutting back on the number of employees working in our facilities while the numbers of customers and sales have grown dramatically.... profits have soared and the CEO is making a ton... Basically, less help, more work... --BUT-- they've pushed it so far now that even working as hard as you can you simply cannot meet the standards of work they demand you achieve, and I personally feel our service has declined and it embarrasses me because I remember how top-notch it used to be. Now some national survey results are coming in showing our company has skidded significantly down from the top and now have several major competitors above us in terms of customer service and the like. So the you know what is hitting the fan... and yet management can't see the correlation between their cost cutting and workforce reduction and the slide in customer service results.

Their response is typical: "Crack down" on the employees because "They're not doing their jobs."

Sorry, you can only work so hard. There simply isn't enough time in the day with the volume of people we deal with to keep appearances up. When you deal with one customer after another from the time you arrive till you leave non-stop, other tasks are skimped or skipped over due to time constraints. (Remember! No overtime allowed either!)

The writing is on the wall: Cost cutting is leading to costly cuts in customer service.... and the evidence is pointing right at that, from the CUSTOMERS. Not even to mention the morale issues and the stressed out employees it is causing.... Yet, they cannot see it. Must always be lazy employees, not failure of their brilliant management strategy.

Sure, cutting labor costs = short term profit increase.... but after a few years, the resulting cuts in customer care come back to bite you on the ass.... you could get away with it if you were in an industry where there's little competition, but we have national competitors, many which have been improving over the years and we can't afford this failure to deliver superior service and keep the image and public perception as top notch. It's hard to gain a great reputation, but easy to lose it.
--
"Regulatory capitalism is when companies invest in lawyers, lobbyists, and politicians, instead of plant, people, and customer service." - former FCC Chairman William Kennard (A real FCC Chairman, unlike the current Corporate Spokesperson in the job!)

koma3504
Advocate
Premium
join:2004-06-22
North Richland Hills, TX

Cool

this should be a requirement to work from the ground up.

I applaud his efforts.

jarablue
Always be true to yourself

join:2001-06-11
Boxborough, MA

It's a start

All they need to do now is stop picking up immigrants with cardboard signs that read "will work for low pay" in Springfield MA. Charter is notorius here. I have heard stories of Contractors asking customers if they had any cheebah for sale. That is not even the tip of the stories here in MA. Good for him though. Maybe he will clean up Charter.

RR Conductor
NWP RR Inc.,serving NW CA
Premium
join:2002-04-02
Redwood Valley, CA
kudos:1

Re: It's a start

said by jarablue:

All they need to do now is stop picking up immigrants with cardboard signs that read "will work for low pay" in Springfield MA. Charter is notorius here. I have heard stories of Contractors asking customers if they had any cheebah for sale. That is not even the tip of the stories here in MA. Good for him though. Maybe he will clean up Charter.
What is cheebah?
--
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divideBYzero

join:2002-05-29
Bass Harbor, ME

Re: It's a start

said by RR Conductor:

said by jarablue:

All they need to do now is stop picking up immigrants with cardboard signs that read "will work for low pay" in Springfield MA. Charter is notorius here. I have heard stories of Contractors asking customers if they had any cheebah for sale. That is not even the tip of the stories here in MA. Good for him though. Maybe he will clean up Charter.
What is cheebah?
That would be weed, marijuana, pot, what ever you want to call it. Figures if they hate their job, they want to go get high.

RR Conductor
NWP RR Inc.,serving NW CA
Premium
join:2002-04-02
Redwood Valley, CA
kudos:1

Re: It's a start

Oh, I've never heard it called that.

ToxicDrew
Premium
join:2001-09-24
At least they work for their "cheebah" Maybe the contractor was in a ghetto neighborhood and felt comfortable enough to ask if they had any. I doubt the contractor was asking Jane Doe Soccer mom if she had any "cheebah" laying around her house.
--
dream your dreams with open eyes and make them come true...

jarablue
Always be true to yourself

join:2001-06-11
Boxborough, MA

Re: It's a start

I live in Tatnuck Sq in Worceter. It is far from the Ghetto. And yes this was my wife he asked. And she is in no way ghetto in her speech or her appearance. Not to toot my own horn but my house cost me over 375k. I don't live in the ghetto. I grew up in the ghetto, I know where I came. I will never forget. I am white corn bread guy. So yeah, it was Jane Doe soccer Mom. I guess some people can't understand that Charter is this bad. Come to Worcester about 70% of the people here would love to firebomb the local office. I am not the ONLY one who thinks this way. Thanks.

gattaca
Premium
join:2003-05-28
USA

Re: It's a start

Agreed that Charter in Western Mass is about as bad as it gets.

wdoa

join:2001-10-16
Spencer, MA
Yup, I'll vouch that Tatnuck Sq. in Worcester is decidedly unghetto. Charter is absolutely horrible in this neck of the woods. I keep getting calls from charter installers who have my number mixed up with somebody elses, and yup many of these folks seem to have major trouble mastering the English language. I think the local Charter execs wake up everyday and thank the Good Lord that Verizon is showing no signs of rolling FIOS into much of Central Mass.

DHRacer
Tech Monkey

join:2000-10-10
Lake Arrowhead, CA

Charter seems decent in SoCal

I've not yet had issues with Charter. They keep their install windows, the tech support is fairly decent (some of it seems outsourced since heavily accented English with American names is a dead give away), and the service so far has been decent and trouble-free. Every time I call I do get someone who's polite and tries to answer my questions the best they can.

It's good to see a CEO who looks at the real botom line. It's those people who will make or break the company's customer retention, and that needs to be understood from the higher ups that anything but real results from the bottom up can only benefit the company.
--
"No one will believe you solved this problem in one day! We've been working on it for months. Now, go act busy for a few weeks and I'll let you know when it's time to tell them." (R&D Supervisor, Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing /3M Corp.)
Qixotl

join:2002-02-08
New Milford, CT

Re: Charter seems decent in SoCal

Speaking as someone who had an install 1.5 weeks ago in western Connecticut (after an extra two week delay due to the first installer arriving with an antiquated HD box w/o a DVI or HDMI port and falsely claiming that the company didn't provide anything else), I can say that they still are not meeting their install windows here. The guy showed up 50 minutes past the agreed 4 hour install window and claimed that his supervisor had called me 3 hours earlier to inform me about the delay (the phone never rang). At the end of the window timeframe, I called customer support and was informed that only a supervisor had the ability to check on the whereabouts of the installer. After being on hold for that supervisor for 35 minutes, I hung up and called back to figure out what the delay was. A Tier 1 tech then tried to convince me that 35+ minutes on hold was not unreasonable and that I should have just kept waiting.

There is still loads of work that needs to be done to make this a slightly customer friendly company. I will admit that the first retention agent who called me to find out why I declined by first install was very knowledgeable and helpful. The second one who called me this past weekend was not as she seemed to think that I still had not had a successful installation a week after I had finally achieved service. Hopefully the CEO will meet or talk with people who had experiences like mine to help him know how insanely screwed up his company really is at times.

DHRacer
Tech Monkey

join:2000-10-10
Lake Arrowhead, CA

Re: Charter seems decent in SoCal

The differences between west coast and east coast expereinces with Charter almost seems like it's two totally different companies both using the same name. At least generally. I know there's some unhappy campers on the West Coast, too. But it seems like east coast expereinces are generally worse.

Good luck with Charter. I myself am happy that it has not been as bad as I had feared it might be. I didn't want to go with Cable but when I moved it was my only service provider after being a DSL customer for 7 years.
--
"No one will believe you solved this problem in one day! We've been working on it for months. Now, go act busy for a few weeks and I'll let you know when it's time to tell them." (R&D Supervisor, Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing /3M Corp.)
moonpuppy

join:2000-08-21
Glen Burnie, MD

Unfortunately, this won't last long.

The CEO can increase staff all he wants but when the CFO comes back and tells him profits are shrinking because they spent too much on customer service, things will go back to the way it was before.

While I appreciate his efforts, it will not last long. Seen this too many times before.

72276539
Premium
join:2001-01-19
Atlanta, GA

Re: Unfortunately, this won't last long.

said by moonpuppy:

The CEO can increase staff all he wants but when the CFO comes back and tells him profits are shrinking because they spent too much on customer service, things will go back to the way it was before.

While I appreciate his efforts, it will not last long. Seen this too many times before.
What frackin profits? Please read a bit more next time, you'll find out the company is riddled with debt... they will not be turning a profit anytime soon.
--
RIP Dimebag- August 20, 1966 to December 8th, 2004.

morbo
Complete Your Transaction

join:2002-01-22
00000

Re: Unfortunately, this won't last long.

very debt ridden. although, i think in 5 years they will be much better off.
markopoleo

join:2003-04-02
Bonne Terre, MO

Re: Unfortunately, this won't last long.

said by morbo:

very debt ridden. although, i think in 5 years they will be much better off.
They are already better off than last year, they shaved 1.6billion off the 20billion in debt. Pretty big increase considering year before it was less than 100million. lol
moonpuppy

join:2000-08-21
Glen Burnie, MD
said by 72276539:

said by moonpuppy:

The CEO can increase staff all he wants but when the CFO comes back and tells him profits are shrinking because they spent too much on customer service, things will go back to the way it was before.

While I appreciate his efforts, it will not last long. Seen this too many times before.
What frackin profits? Please read a bit more next time, you'll find out the company is riddled with debt... they will not be turning a profit anytime soon.
The company is paying off its debt with...say it with me.....profits.

While it may be in debt up to its eyeballs, it is paying it off little by little (even though most is only interest.) The thinking of the bean counters will be to shave support a bit more to make the margin that much bigger and then pay off more debt.

Titus
Mr Gradenko

join:2004-06-26
kudos:1

PR stunt

and nothing more. These guys did their 'time', came back to the office for a few hours before laughing at the grunts over martinis at 5
.
--
The woman from 1984 put down her hammer for an iMac®, iPod® & iPhone®

Ream0

@rr.com

How Noble!

He ought to beaten then "Tarred and feathered" for posturing.

...And after the publicity stunt,He'll resign himself to pheasant under glass with grey poupon!
ender7074

join:2006-11-21
Saint Louis, MO

1 recommendation

Full of BS

This guy is full of it. If he was so concerned with customer service, the cable techs would not have been outsourced to a foregin country. He also would be stomping mudholes into the butts of people in charge of the contractors that never show up on time. This is the exact same line of stinking, rotten BS that we heard when he was hired (I used to work at Charter Commons in St. Louis). He was going to be some grand savior and, so far, all he has done is run the company farther into the ground while outsourcing local jobs to a foregin country. Way to go jackass.

The last good CEO that Charter had was the guy before Carl Vogel. I think his name was Jack Kent or something like that. He was a good guy that got the axe because of one rotten apple in the bunch.
fiberguy
My views are my own.
Premium
join:2005-05-20
kudos:3

1 recommendation

Re: Full of BS

... and don't forget with keeping all of that here, for a little guy, they'd have to raise rates WAY beyond what most Americans would be willing to pay..

.. don't forget that!!! ..don't forget that!!!

The landscape that makes up communications is not something for the arm chair quarterback. It's fierce out there, and takes a VERY fine tuned person to run. It's very easy to sit back and criticize these people but here's what they are faced with:

(applies to all com companies)

They have to offer a quality product
Make the customer happy
Make the investor/stock holder happy
Run a quality system
Pay employees fairly with good benefits.
Operate with in their budgets.
Keep up with the changes of tech and demands of customers.
Ward off the wolves (other providers) from their pack of sheep.

All of this while being in the scale of their operation. Why does anyone thing the mega mergers of the late 90's/2000's happened? It put companies in a cash position to be able to be a better competitor. Cable, for example, if they stayed as fragmented as they were with all the little guys trying to do it alone, you'd still be running on 256kbps cable modems, if even. Telephone would also still be a faint dream in the eyes of most providers and you'd still just have digital cable, not ADS and no VOD.

The mergers, as bad as some people see them, are what got the providers where they are today. The same is to be said about telephone.

Now, in my eyes, that they have got their networks built up, do we hope to see them broken up again? What would that do? Put us back to the 90's again? Would they be able to afford the next round of upgrades or would we sit put again? Does anyone thing Verizon would be able to offer FiOS today if they didn't buy up in strength with all of of their mergers? Doubt it.

Like I said.. it's not something to arm chair and it's never going to please everyone simultaneously because there will always be harsh critics.
--
"Complaining is the least path of resistance for the self-serving, the lazy, and I’m told it’s a woman’s prerogative..."

KrK
Heavy Artillery For The Little Guy
Premium
join:2000-01-17
Tulsa, OK

Re: Full of BS

said by fiberguy:

... and don't forget with keeping all of that here, for a little guy, they'd have to raise rates WAY beyond what most Americans would be willing to pay..
Debt from their own mis-management is their problem. Sorry, but the stock will have to stay cheap for awhile and the CEO won't make his zillions. Too bad. Hire Americans.
They have to offer a quality product
Make the customer happy
Make the investor/stock holder happy
Run a quality system
Pay employees fairly with good benefits.
Operate with in their budgets.
Keep up with the changes of tech and demands of customers.
Ward off the wolves (other providers) from their pack of sheep.
They have to offer a quality product
Make the customer happy
Make the investor/stock holder happy
Run a quality system
Pay employees fairly with good benefits.
Operate with in their budgets.
Keep up with the changes of tech and demands of customers.
Ward off the wolves (other providers) from their pack of sheep.

All they really have to do is:

Operate in areas where there is little competition, and use bundling penalties to keep people needing broadband etc off of DBS satellite.
--
"Regulatory capitalism is when companies invest in lawyers, lobbyists, and politicians, instead of plant, people, and customer service." - former FCC Chairman William Kennard (A real FCC Chairman, unlike the current Corporate Spokesperson in the job!)
fiberguy
My views are my own.
Premium
join:2005-05-20
kudos:3

Re: Full of BS

Thanks for armchair quarter-backing.

You've done little to change this post. When you called it a bundling penalty, you lost all credibility.

It was always a "discount" until someone (probably a cheap penny pincher) decided to call it a penalty because they always look at the cheapest route vs. actual price. Phone companies do this, actually invented this, and yet only cable catches shit for it?

I suppose that when you go to the grocery store and you see a special price "with coupon" that the regular price is the penalty for not having the coupon? To ward off future arguments, I suppose the cable of Coke for $4.00 (instead of the $6.99 price) WITH additional $25.00 purchase now becomes a penalty for those not wishing to buy more services and save? I just don't get this way of thinking.

Sooner or later reality will set in and then the conversation can continue.

But again, thanks for making my point even more clear.
--
"Complaining is the least path of resistance for the self-serving, the lazy, and I’m told it’s a woman’s prerogative..."

KrK
Heavy Artillery For The Little Guy
Premium
join:2000-01-17
Tulsa, OK

Re: Full of BS

It's not a discount. It's a price scheme designed to keep people locked into services.

In the same way "Naked DSL" is offered for $1-$2 less then DSL + POTS line. That's no deal. If you believe that the pricing is not set very deliberately and with intent to keep customers out of competitor's hands then you're the one who needs a dose of reality.

Yes, a PENALTY. The only way it would not be a penalty is if the pricing structure was the same for either service and then you got a discount when you added the second....

With CableTV, it works like this. You can get CableTV for $40 a month. Then you can get Cable Internet for $25 a month on top of that.... $65 a month for both. BUT should you only want Cable Internet and refuse to get the TV (Because you want to get it from oh, say DBS) then the price for Cable Internet is $59.00 a month.... That's no "discount". It's a penalty price to make sure you keep CableTV and stay off DBS, that's what it is.
--
"Regulatory capitalism is when companies invest in lawyers, lobbyists, and politicians, instead of plant, people, and customer service." - former FCC Chairman William Kennard (A real FCC Chairman, unlike the current Corporate Spokesperson in the job!)
fiberguy
My views are my own.
Premium
join:2005-05-20
kudos:3

Re: Full of BS

said by KrK:

With CableTV, it works like this. You can get CableTV for $40 a month. Then you can get Cable Internet for $25 a month on top of that.... $65 a month for both. BUT should you only want Cable Internet and refuse to get the TV (Because you want to get it from oh, say DBS) then the price for Cable Internet is $59.00 a month.... That's no "discount". It's a penalty price to make sure you keep CableTV and stay off DBS, that's what it is.
Well? This is a long term argument. Here, Internet has always been $57.00 per month. However, they offered a bundle price for $42.00... So I guess it's all in how you 'choose' to look at it. In your example, you choose to look at the lowest price as "the" price of internet and the higher as a penalty.

Also, you're DSL example speaks clearly of AT&T systems. Qwest was the first ILEC to offer DSL "stand alone" aka "dry, naked, what ever"... They HARDLY offer the service at $1-$2 less than DSL + POTS. I DO, however, agree with the AT&T tactic. It's called the deal made with the Devil. This is classic of the devil's deals... "Sure, we'll offer DSL dry, but you didn't say it had to be at "X" price!!"

Want one further? Take Qwest, for example.. Qwest will offer you a cheaper price, however, it's with a "Qualifying" phone package. IE: You don't get the cheaper DSL price unless you have a 'specific' level of phone service.

Each service is not made equally in their pricing. However, the one thing that I don't see the unbundled price as a penalty. I know what it really costs to offer a service and bundling DOES save the company money. However, anyone is welcome to see it the way they choose.

Now back on topic..
--
"Complaining is the least path of resistance for the self-serving, the lazy, and I’m told it’s a woman’s prerogative..."
jjeffeory

join:2002-12-04
USA
SO when are they going to get to the part where they offer a quality product, run a quality system, and make the customer happy?

I have to admit that they may be there in Pasadena, CA. In other parts of the country, it's a different story. All I'm saying is do things at least better than the old, small, "mom and pop" cables companies.

Anway, I'll be moving soon and getting another provider!
yay_son

join:2005-04-16
Monterey Park, CA

come to this part of soCAL and tell me charter is fine

and they are still on the bottom? what shocking news

viperpa33s
Why Me?
Premium
join:2002-12-20
Bradenton, FL

Michael Dell does the same thing and Dell still sucks

Michael Dell fields customer calls once in awhile and Dell support still sucks. They won't learn that sending support jobs overseas is not working. People are fed up not getting there problems fixed by people who can't speak hardly any english and read from a script. It may save the company money in the short term but in the long term the company ends up losing a lot more in money, customers, and shareholder defections.

C34
Oh Hallah

join:2002-11-12
Los Angeles, CA

Have Charter

I live just outside of Time Warner domination in Los Angeles, and have Charter. I used to have a number of problems with them, but they have been pretty good in terms of service consistency and quality. It'd be nice if they could upgrade their system, but otherwise I can't complain. My internet is pretty solid and fast 6M/512k, and the HD channels look beautiful.

As for customer service, I usually try to call the office 10 miles from my house. They were pretty good and wouldn't waste time. Unfortunately, Charter started transferring me to the main system not too long ago, and when it is busy - it is HORRIBLE. Sometimes while on hold, they make you go through a computer help system with the simple "unplug and plug back in." Twice it has hung up on me, saying "That should fix your problems, goodbye".

When I went to school, in Downtown LA, I had Time Warner. Their CS was much worse than Charter.
trancelgic

join:2003-09-23
Saint Charles, MO

Is it too little too late?

Charter has already outsourced customer service and tech support...

They got rid of the people that gave them such high ranking customer satisfaction.

I would say, the company should do the following:

While the field techs are out doing their rounds, while they're in the area. have them pick up the boxes from people that haven't paid their bills and stop counting them as 'active customers', that's some Enron stuff going on there.

Have upper management take a turn at a pay cut, maybe if it hurt a little where it counts, they may start to care about what's going on in the company, rather than just trying to hold on until retirement.

Come up with a better business model that will attract some decent investors.

Fix your broken/antiquated/troublesome main lines, instead of telling people that you don't have the budget to fix it until next month. That's not customer service. Charter is not some kids lemonade stand, it's a REAL business.

Every customer you piss off, you lose customers. If there is a language barrier, you will lose customers. If you give crummy customer service, you lose customers. Lost customers means lost revenue. Lost revenue means you look bad. When you look bad you lose investors, customers, employees, and suppliers.

Think about it. And while you're thinking about it, give a listen to a podcast that may help you get an understanding how your employees on the front line feel. »corporatecluster.podshow.com

pp03

join:2002-06-13

1 edit

Re: Is it too little too late?

Quote of the day from my last talk with customer service.

All the pressing of buttons to finally get to support and,
Me: "My account is tied to the wrong address, could I just get that switched please"
Charter: "You is gone have call you local place, you used da wrong phone numba"
Me: "So I can't get this changed fast?"
Charter: "Click"

GG charter, GG
--
The History Channel rocks! ... you know it!