Faced with a stiff loss of subscribers and low rankings for customer-satisfaction measures, Time Warner Cable's Los Angeles division has brought a little care and concern to its subscribers.The division examined factors that engendered customer loyalty and rolled out a program armed with tactics and touch points designed to enhance its reputation and perception in the market. The result: A decrease in overall churn, but especially among those with service problems, and gains in the eyes of area customers. For its efforts with the "Because We Care" program, Time Warner Cable of Los Angeles is being recognized as a first-place winner in the CTAM's Customer Retention Case Study Competition.
In 2001, Time Warner Cable's Los Angeles system lost over 13,000 customers. Although a diminishing "price-to-value" relationship was certainly a mitigating factor in the subscriber loss, the division wasn't doing a very good job with its customers. In fact, the results of a "Customer Service and Satisfaction Study" showed Los Angeles was the division where subs were "most likely to switch to satellite." Moreover, the division ranked No. 35 or lower out of 40 units in all five "key drivers" of customer satisfaction.
To reverse this course, director of marketing retention Dawn Callahan and her team went to school on a study titled, "Emotion Marketing: The Hallmark Way of Winning Customers For Life." They found that of the four key factors predictive of customer loyalty — length of patronage, trust, overall satisfaction and caring — the last was twice as important as the other variables.
This served as the underpinning for "Because We Care," which began late last year and aimed in particular at customers with service problems.
First, customers who had a service problem received a "follow-up care call" by its outbound retention group within 24 of the appointment, inquiring as to whether things were now functioning properly. If a problem persisted, the representative was empowered to proactively schedule an immediate follow-up visit.
All customers who had a service problem received a letter of apology from the general manager, inviting them to call with any problems.
Additionally, customers who had more than one service appointment within a 30-day period received a dozen cookies and a note of apology for the inconvenience. "There have been many positive notes from customer saying 'I can't believe a company is doing that for me, much less a cable company,' " she noted.
Overall, the Time Warner division reported that the program has helped lead to a 4.5% decline in churn reduction versus 2002 levels, and there has been a 22% decrease in the number of customers with service problems disconnecting within 90 days of their troubles.
Callahan said the division has also underlined its commitment to maintaining customer loyalty by adopting an anniversary program. The message not only recognizes the subscribers' time with Time Warner and thanks them for their patronage, but is accompanied by a coupon for a complimentary video on demand movie.
All told, Callahan said the number of customers who agree that the division "values me as a customer" has improved 23% versus its performance in the aforementioned study.
What's next? A month ago or so, Callahan said she made a Because We Care program presentation to corporate executives and they "loved it. They're considering it nationally."