CTAM Summit 2009: Miron Says Customer Is King

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Advance/Newhouse Communications chairman and long-time cable veteran Robert Miron said that cable operators are faced with challenges they never would have anticipated just a few years ago, but that success is based on one simple tenet -- superior customer service.
In accepting CTAM's Grand TAM award at the CTAM Summit here, Miron said that customer service has been an issue in the industry for years, but that many operators are realizing the superior service can win the day.
The Grand TAM is CTAM's highest honor and is given in recognition of the time, talent and commitment made to ensure the future of the industry through marketing, education and leadership.
Advance/Newhouse owns Bright House Networks, a Florida cable operator that has won top honors in J.D. Power & Associates customer service surveys for telephone service in the South for four straight years. Miron said he hopes to win a fifth award when they are announced tomorrow.
While he was disappointed that the cable industry has slipped behind AT&T and Verizon in terms of video service in the J.D. Power rankings, Miron noted that cable has placed consistently higher in telephone and high-speed data service. He added that the goal is to return to the No. 1 ranking.
"In a competitive environment, when it comes to customer service, first place is the only place to be," Miron said.
As far as new competitive threats, Miron said that fears that free online video will destroy the cable distribution model remind him of the early days of cable, when people wondered how operators could ever survive by charging for something consumers were already getting for free.
Cable, he said changed the TV model and did it by offering more programming and better picture quality.
"Now we find ourselves in the reverse situation," Miron said. "Rather than pay, a young, tech-savvy generation is adept at getting video for free. We need to find a way to preserve paid content."