Washington -- The National Cable Television Association
touted its participation in National Customer Service Week last week (Oct. 4-8), which
cable systems joined for the third year in a row.
The 1999 event was themed "Team 2000: Creating a New
Millenium in Customer Service."
According to the NCTA, industry response to the event was
overwhelmingly positive, with more than 500 systems and 26 MSOs agreeing to participate by
honoring front-line employees and showing appreciation for their customers.
In New Castle, Del., Adelphia Communications Corp. treated
customer-service representatives to lunch and dinner, in addition to awarding them gifts.
AT&T Broadband & Internet Services of East Lansing,
Mich., displayed customer-appreciation comments in its office lobby, along with a video of
CSRs explaining what they do to try to surpass expectations. Walk-in customers were
treated to refreshments.
AT&T Broadband's Twin Falls, Ind., system hosted a
drawing for a free upgrade to its platinum digital package.
In Kirksville, Mo., Cable One Inc. managers made random
calls to customers, voicing appreciation for their business.
At Cable One's Phoenix system, the operator set up a
phone line for employees who wished to speak directly with the CEO. The company also
promised to wash employees' cars and treat them to breakfast.
The Charter Communications system in New Roads, La.,
decorated its front office with balloons with cards attached to them. Walk-in customers
who chose a balloon were awarded the prizes named on the cards. CSRs were also eligible to
win such prizes as movie gift certificates.
In Thibodaux, La., Charter CSRs who answered programming
questions correctly won prize packages.
Media General Cable of Chantilly, Va., held a weeklong
celebration honoring a different customer-service hero each day. To carry over the theme,
the system served its employees a lunch featuring hero sandwiches one day.
In Tampa, Fla., Time Warner Cable planned five different
"Back to Basic" themes, one for each day of the weeklong event.
On Monday, the system highlighted proper phone etiquette.
Tuesday's emphasis was on billing. Sales and programming highlights were featured
Wednesday. Customer gratuities were awarded to walk-in traffic at Time Warner's
satellite offices Thursday. And Time Warner CSRs were given gifts and
"graduation" certificates Friday.
Since Congress proclaimed the national event in 1992,
thousands of companies across the country have joined in.
In the face of increasing competition, the cable industry
has beefed up its customer-service efforts dramatically in recent years, with programs
such as the On-Time Guarantee. The efforts could help the industry to move away from
stereotypical images of "the cable guy" as a technician who inevitably shows up
In addition, many operators have gravitated to making CSRs
accessible on a 24-hour-per-day, seven-day-per-week basis.