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Charter Tries to Defend Gutting Social Media Team
Phone Hold Queues More 'Personal and Consistent'
by Karl Bode 10:50AM Thursday Dec 06 2012
Yesterday we exclusively reported that Charter Communications was quietly gutting all of their social media support operations, informing those employees that they could either take a job with phone support, or leave the company entirely. It's an unfortunate move for Charter customers, given that like many ISPs, the use of Twitter to directly correspond with frustrated customer helped users break through bureaucratic gridlock, while giving a human face to the company.

In a statement e-mailed to cable industry trade magazines, Charter's Anita Lamont (who did not respond to a phone call for comment yesterday) is justifying the move as an attempt to be more "personal, effective and consistent":
quote:
"We believe speaking directly with a customer is a more personal, effective and consistent way to answer questions, solve an issue or provide information, and we will focus our efforts on these means of communications," Lamont said. "We’re committed to treating our customers with great care, and we believe that person-to-person interaction accomplishes that in a more meaningful way for more of our customers."
It doesn't appear that Lamont understands what the UMatter2Charter team actually did, since personal communication on Twitter was a huge portion of their daily work. While Charter's number crunchers likely just compared team cost versus the volume of customers handled, it would be impossible to calculate the positive impact the team had on the Charter brand.

Charter consistently fares poorly on customer satisfaction rankings because consumers aren't happy with their existing support services. Eliminating a group focused on finally trying to fix that seems myopic and short sighted.

Even if they weren't doing so in volume, the UMatter2Charter team was helping angry and frustrated customers by providing a helpful, human point of contact that was able to break through normal support gridlock, giving those users a positive brand experience.

How much is that worth? Apparently not much to Charter.

view:
topics flat nest 

battleop

join:2005-09-28
00000

I have a feeling...

The complete story is not being told by either side. One of our customers let their entire "Social Media" department go because they were spending to much time dong too much personal Social Media.
--
I do not, have not, and will not work for AT&T/Comcast/Verizon/Charter or similar sized company.

danawhitaker
Space...The Final Frontier
Premium
join:2002-03-02
Urbandale, IA

Re: I have a feeling...

By that logic though, most companies should let their entire workforce go (i.e. many people today spend time in the workplace responding to personal e-mails and social networking stuff). I don't know many people today who don't to some degree - I see it frequently with e-mails I get from parents at my daughter's school about various school activities and events and classroom parties.

I'm not a Charter customer, but I'm a frequent user of cable company Mediacom's social networking team, including someone right here on BBR. I have always gotten a better response time and better customer service than I've ever gotten on the phone, and I'm thankful to have access to such a great team of people. It is the epitome of personal service.

What it feels like they're doing is taking away an outlet for more technical users. What I love about having access to someone on BBR or Twitter is that the phone people always try to pigeonhole you and take you through X number of useless steps to solve a problem - even though for many of us who frequent a site like this and reach out using social media, those are steps that we have already tried on our end. Jumping through the same hoops for someone on the phone is frustrating. I remember back when I still had Qwest especially, and there were terrible problems with my line that were outside the house, a call would go like this, "Hi, I'm having X happen...and I've tried A, B, C, and D already, so I know it's not any of those things" - and I'd be lucky if they'd listen and be willing to bypass me trying all those basic steps that the less technical users wouldn't have thought to try.
--
You're watching Sports Night on CSC so stick around...

cork1958
Cork
Premium
join:2000-02-26

Re: I have a feeling...

Said by danawhitaker:
"By that logic though, most companies should let their entire workforce go (i.e. many people today spend time in the workplace responding to personal e-mails and social networking stuff). I don't know many people today who don't to some degree - I see it frequently with e-mails I get from parents at my daughter's school about various school activities and events and classroom parties."

I don't know about entire work force, but I'd be firing people who played on computers at work! I know of many people who spend more time doing personal things, not just e-mail, at work than working now a days!

As far as this current move by Charter, what morons!! Just another in their current trend of totally bone headed moves.
--
The Firefox alternative.
»www.mozilla.org/projects/seamonkey/

battleop

join:2005-09-28
00000
"By that logic though, most companies should let their entire workforce go"

When they put their social life before their job, you bet. I hate having to wait to look at someone's problem because they have to finish up their unimportant post in farcebook.
--
I do not, have not, and will not work for AT&T/Comcast/Verizon/Charter or similar sized company.
axus

join:2001-06-18
Washington, DC

Re: I have a feeling...

How about posting to DSLReports during the workday? Oops I just did.

battleop

join:2005-09-28
00000

Re: I have a feeling...

I wouldn't have a problem with it if work came first and then socializing second.
NeoandGeo

join:2003-05-10
Harrison, TN

1 edit

.

Would this eventually affect the Charter support that is teamed up with this site? From my experience the personal support I got here was leagues better than phone support.

FFH
Premium
join:2002-03-03
Tavistock NJ
kudos:5

Re: .

said by NeoandGeo:

Would this eventually affect the Charter support that is teamed up with this site? From my experience the personal support I got here was leagues better than phone support.

You will probably have to make do with the "script reading" 1st line phone support people who are mostly useless unless it is an area wide outage affecting everyone. If you have a problem limited to your residence, don't expect a fix. All they will do is put you in the queue for a dispatch to your house.
--
A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves money from the public treasury.

digiblur
Premium
join:2002-06-03
Louisiana

Going Backwards

I hate to have to deal with talking with people on the phone. I know it sounds less personal but in dealing with tech support or something like this I prefer the email, messages, or online chat type of deal. I don't have to devote my entire time and attention to waiting on hold for them to research, look something up, etc. When I have a free moment I can answer or type another message.

If I had to companies I was making a decision about on who to use, the one with some sort of online tech support/customer service would easily be my choice.

Look at how our communications are evolving. It used to be all about the minutes on your cell phone. Now no one really cares about how many minutes they have. All because they don't talk on the phone! Charter is definitely taking a step backwards here. A huge one!

nightshade74
Yet another genxer
Premium
join:2004-11-06
Prattville, AL

CharterAbby

Right now -- I'm working on an upstream power issue w/ CharterAbby.

When I tell her "I've replaced the splitter -- ran a line of RG6 straight from the first splitter, replaced the cable modem, etc".

I didnt get asked to do basic troubleshooting... I'm getting help.

Had I gotten a phone monkey with no followup -- I'd just switch
to Knology.

Heaven forbid you try and activate a cablecard. From my experience it is either Direct or waiting on a FCC complaint.

In short -- axing the 'social media group' is BONEHEADED.
desarollo

join:2011-10-01
Monroe, MI

Re: CharterAbby

Not only is it boneheaded, it shows a complete lack of understanding of what they did for the company. It seems to me that the CEO thinks these people do nothing but hang-out on Twitter all day and say good things about Charter. While that may be some of it, the real benefit was able to deal with multiple customers and their problems simultaneously, doing the work of multiple phone support people.

If the concurrency of work and the efficiency it provided escapes the people making decisions like staff reductions, the wrong people are losing their jobs.
TBBroadband

join:2012-10-26
Fremont, OH
Didn't Knology become someone else?

nightshade74
Yet another genxer
Premium
join:2004-11-06
Prattville, AL

Re: CharterAbby

said by TBBroadband:

Didn't Knology become someone else?

They were purchased by Wide Open West (WOW).
They still are d/b/a Knology (at least here)...

I imagine one day (soon -- later -- etc) they'll adopt
the WOW moniker.

I'm just thankful to have a choice of cable providers...
pdubya

join:2011-12-02
Decatur, AL

Mistake

Charter management really does not know how much the UMatter2Charter team helps customers and how much they will be missed. I turned to them after after being stuck on the phone multiple times trying to get a cablecard activated with my HDHomeRun Prime. After phone support tried to send the correct activation hits to my cable card (that didn't work) they wanted to schedule a service call but I was pretty sure that my problem could be solved without a guy coming out to my house. I posted to the Charter forums and within an hour of giving them my information I was up and running.

I hope that Charter management realizes that they are making a mistake and that the few extra dollars that they spend on this team goes a long way with customers like me.

Long live CharterAbby/Dylan/Josh!

nightshade74
Yet another genxer
Premium
join:2004-11-06
Prattville, AL

Re: Mistake

said by pdubya:

I hope that Charter management realizes that they are making a mistake and that the few extra dollars that they spend on this team goes a long way with customers like me.

They have no clue. The cable cards are a good example. I think it took five visits and an FCC complaint to get one activated.

The next one was just done by the good people in the direct forum.

How many service calls do they save? How many complaints do they prevent? How many (geeky) decision makers do they make happy?

As per usual management hasnt a clue.

tstolze
Premium
join:2003-08-08
O Fallon, MO
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Charter

Call tech support to talk to a computer..

Because having a computer attempt to walk you through trying to fix your issue is real personal......

This is a shame, Charter has made huge strides in the last few years....Hopefully this doesn't turn things back the other direction.
--
Ofallon, Mo Weather
St. Peters, Mo Weather

lemkepf

@gemplers.com

Total bs...

Seriously? That team has helped me faster and more competently than any other social media team I've dealt with. Two tweets and my issue fixed or 30min on a phone call with some idiot who doesn't understand what's going on? Yea... this is going to end well...
megarock

join:2001-06-28
Catawissa, MO
Reviews:
·Charter

Clearly Charter...

..doesn't realize that the social media team provided the best customer service Charter ever offered...with the exception of the Escalations department. Everyone is going to really need to know that 314-965-0555 number from here on out because the monkey's that read from the scripts in telephone support won't be of any real help.

Nice move Charter.... NOT.

scott2020

join:2008-07-20
MO

1 recommendation

Re: Clearly Charter...

Anyone under 50 years old prefers chat, social media, email, etc over waiting on hold forever to talk to some slob who knows nothing. I would much rather fire off a message in the Direct forum or Twitter and go about my life, and wait for a response. Waiting on hold forever to get someone who cannot help at all is so 1990's.

For a company who supposedly knows technology, they have a bunch of old fart bean counters who are taking the company backwards and making dumb decisions.
--
+++ATH0

Twaddle

@sbcglobal.net

Re: Clearly Charter...

Heck I'm 64 and the phone line support is a last resort for me. A quick chat on-line with someone who can make things happen without telling me to recycle my modem and PC, check all my connections and wiring(again) is what I'm looking for. If I can't resolve it by research (read the directions first technique) ,on-line at ISP support site resources or a quick on-line chat with empowered people, a phone call to a script monkey isn't going to help.
The "For 99.00 we'll dispatch a technician to your home tomorrow between 8:00 AM and 5:00 PM o fix your issue" is NOT an answer.

chip89
Premium
join:2012-07-05
Independence, OH
yup I do everything on with support on twitter for everything I do't want to talk to someone who that reads from a piece of paper and is clueless and can be halfway around the world.
bshelly
Premium
join:2002-02-17
Conover, NC

2 edits
Thank you for posting the escalations number. I know I will be needing it since telephone support is NOT helpful at all. The knowledgeable, friendly and all-around wonderful "Social Media" representatives in the CharterDirect forum have been amazing and made my 3 Cable Card activations painless. If it wasn't for them, I would have given up and simply switched to DirecTV and AT&T DSL. Tom Rutledge is a flippin' idiot who just "Doesn't get it."



The executives must really believe Abby and the gang sit around and surf Twitter, Facebook and other sites all day long. Nope, they sure aren't! They are helping the many of us who cannot get good, proficient support from anywhere else. If anything, DUMP telephone support and go strictly Social Media. Tom Rutledge, you are making a serious mistake!
megarock

join:2001-06-28
Catawissa, MO
Reviews:
·Charter

Re: Clearly Charter...

I'll be honest here...I have NEVER had a problem solved using phone support except reactivating a modem or paying my bill. The script readers are useless in any real technical issues and I end up wasting a half hour or more being asked the same questions over and over again. Ok, let's start by turning your computer and modem off for a minute...... Ok, turn your computer back on...turn your modem back on... wait for it to light up... is your internet working now? Are you sure it's not your computer? Are you sure it's not your internet browser? Do you have another computer you can test from? Ok, let me run a few tests.....I'm sorry, I don't see anything wrong....(got told this one time with the modem completely unsynced)... ok, looks like we are going to have to schedule a tech to come out...three tech visits later the problem is still going on....guess we will have to send out a senior tech...ok, two more techs, another senior tech... oh, hey...maybe it has something to do with the wire up the road that got chopped into three weeks ago....yeah, we will fix that sooner or later but if the problem is still there in a week call back. A week later I call back and have to start the whole thing over again.

And you think the social media folks aren't worth keeping around? There is a record of everything done, the same person deals with it from start to finish and I get things fixed in days, not months.

If Charter wants to save money FIRE THE CEO.
Joe12345678

join:2003-07-22
Des Plaines, IL

phone is more Consistent in call time limits / scripts

phone is more Consistent in call time limits / scripts.

That look good on paper but are bad for customers.

winsyrstrife
River City Bounce
Premium
join:2002-04-30
Brooklyn, NY

Weighing the pros & cons

1 phone support rep can only talk to 1 person at a time, while social media allows communication to various audiences.

"sorry guys there was a glitch in our mail system, it's fixed as of XX:XX." vs hundreds of people calling in to find out the same thing, frustrated by the hold times.

"We're considering unification of account information for all Charter provided services. Now 1 Charter user ID will work for all logins!!" VS calling to inquire about this new feature you heard about through the grapevine, but the phone rep honestly has no idea what you're talking about, because it was not communicated clearly throughout the company (happens ALL the time).

Are Charter support reps native English speakers? If no, the "personal and consistent" touch is getting off on the wrong foot. I feel alienated during the initial phases of foreign language-speaking phone support.
--
"Suddenly everything is fainting, falling from a broken ladder's rung. There's a jolt exhilarating from the phone I'm holding...
I hear the words of what I'll become, how eager the hands that reach for love."
- Blind Melon - New Life

wdoa

join:2001-10-16
Spencer, MA

that's it for me with Charter

...as merely a basic subscriber, no boxes, just using the clear QAM tuner's in my TV's my time with Charter is rapidly coming to a close. Their phone support is horrendous and with the coming encryption that will require cable boxes even for basic customer I am now moving to having a rooftop antenna installed in the spring. The bottom line is Charter is extremely expensive and their treatment of customers is piss poor. This move to eliminate one of the few helpful arms of their support is enough to have me moving on even if I end up having to spend several hundred dollars to have a rooftop antenna installed.

Fangz

join:2000-10-11
Magna, UT

Way to cut costs

"personal, effective and consistent", never have I heard that while working for Charter. It was always, don't make outbound calls, limited your breaks, be back on time and answer more calls.

The superiors at the Vancouver WA location would send nasty emails about wasting time, sending calls for queues to agents that weren't trained in that area or just plain complaints about the way they want their department ran.

There are no government SLAs on calls to HSIA support. They can let them sit and rot but forbid the day a TV call causes their SLA to drop and then they are fined.

IowaCowboy
Iowa native
Premium
join:2010-10-16
Springfield, MA
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Verizon Broadban..
·Comcast

Accesibility issues

As a person with a cognitive disability, I find it easier to communicate via E-mail or social media. Some barriers I encounter with using the phone are language and accent barriers and I have a hard time deciding on what words to use to describe the issue. I find using a computer or e-mail removes those barriers and I try to do business with companies that use US based call centers. I can normally use the phone but it is much easier if I know the person and they know how I communicate. I find it much easier to type than it is for me to speak (particularly when it comes to negotiating). I have had to authorize my mother to negotiate with service providers on more than one occasion.

Hold times can create access barriers as well, particularly with individuals with ADHD or sleep disorders (falling asleep while waiting).

The Direct Support forums on DSLR are a lifesaver when it comes to getting things with Comcast (my house) or Time Warner (at Grandma's house) resolved.

crazyk4952
Premium
join:2002-02-04
united state
kudos:1
Reviews:
·CenturyLink
·Vitelity VOIP
·Charter
·Callcentric

But what about the BEANS?

I can guarantee you this is the idea of some short-sighted, idiot bean counter in the corporate office. They are all about the short-term gains and fail to see the long-term loss that are a result of their poor policies.

It has been my experience that the support people on the private forums here and the ones on social media are the only people that know what they are doing. The people at my local office are completely clueless and phone support is hit-or-miss (mostly miss).

Unfortunately, most of Charter's customers don't have a real choice so they can't vote with their dollars....
grimalkin74

join:2011-05-31
Morro Bay, CA
Reviews:
·Charter

Just.. stunned

She for got the modifiers on the descriptors Its IM-personal IN-effective and IN-consistent. They're phone support is the worst for the most part. What they need to do is axe a couple overseas call centers, and move that money into expanding the department, not getting rid of it. Oh well, this will backfire for them, the FCC complaints are going to go up, WAY up. Cancellations will occur and more frustration. Just another way to basically prove the board room and bean counters, are way out of touch with the base line consumer.

msmisfit

join:2004-09-13
Lawrenceville, GA
kudos:2

Re: Just.. stunned

I so agree about the *missing* modifiers in her description of what is really a cost cutting move nothing else.

I laughed out loud at this: "We believe speaking directly with a customer is a more personal, effective and consistent way to answer questions, solve an issue or provide information, and we will focus our efforts on these means of communications," Lamont said.

She obviously has NEVER called any Charter call centers with a problem. Nor any members of the "We" team, who decided the good public relations and fewer truck rolls that result from providing forum support is outweighed by any cost per call survey. Bad, bad decision.
watts3000

join:2002-01-21

Re: Just.. stunned

All I know is these guys were skilled at what they did I was able to get problems resolved quickly. This is total nonsense I'm sure it was some bean counter that came up with this.
frankeliason

join:2012-04-11
Trenton, NJ

Kudos to the UMatter2Charter Team

First I would like to applaud the UMatter2Charter team for helping so many Customers over the years. I have had the opportunity to speak with some of the early team members and I found them to be very Customer centric. In my view the challenge is most companies enter social Customer Service in a quest to receive PR or other recognition. The team never felt that way and they proved it during every interaction. The challenge to social Customer Service is for companies to truly be effective they must fix what is broken at the core. I have seen statements saying that Charter has improved but the fact is they are still ranked last in most studies of Customer Service. Of course we will always have a love/hate relationship with the cable company, but we should never have to dread speaking with them. I am glad the team will still be within the organization and I hope they will be able to guide the leaders of Charter to create the right experience for their Customers.

Thank you and best wishes!

Frank Eliason

airshark
--... ...-- -.. . -. -.... .-.. -.--
Premium
join:2003-05-20
Hollister, CA

Way to go

The Charter Direct forum WAS the only meaningful support offered by Charter. EVERY SINGLE time you call on the phone, the drooling knuckle dragger on the other end of the line was 100% ineffective at resolving any problem I've ever had. UMatter2Charter was the only avenue I've found for quick, personal, meaningful assistance with people who didn't treat you like a 2-year old.

You suck Charter.

You suck.

mackey
Premium
join:2007-08-20
kudos:12

Was this the plan all along?

So let me get this straight. A few years ago they banned all employees from posting because they wanted to "maintain consistency" and "consolidate the information" on the site, and now they just killed it off completely?

Sounds to me like they don't want their customers to get the help with their service they need!

/M