Insight Plays On Offense, Defense


NEW YORK —Insight Communications’ supervisory development
program fits with a customer-centric strategy set more than five
years ago by CEO Michael Willner, chief operating officer Dinni
Jain and other top managers.

They built a game plan around top-class customer service,
acquiring customers via direct sales and building the right
technology platform to sell new services.

The payoff : Over the past five years, Insight has added a total of
138,500 basic video customers, grown revenue by an average of
13.6% a year and increased cash-flow growth by 10.8% per annum.

In 2009, with 716,400 customers in parts of Kentucky, Indiana
and Ohio, Insight posted a 13% revenue gain and a 10% cash-flow
rise while adding 8,800 basic video subscribers. That’s the fifth
straight year of customer gains at Insight. In that period, larger
operators have lost hundreds of thousands of video subscribers.

“There is no silver bullet,” Willner said in a recent interview.
“This is day-to-day blocking and tackling that results in a highgrowth

“There’s an offensive play
and a defensive play and you
have to do them both,” he said.
“The offense is that you have
to connect more customers
and the defense is you have to
disconnect fewer customers. I
know that sounds really stupid,
but that’s fundamental.

“The question is, how do you
do that?

“One way,” Willner said, “is
to put more door-to-door sales
people on the street and make
sure they actually are making
high quality sales, versus just
going to the easiest sale that is going to drop off in three months.

“And on the defensive side, you want to demotivate people
from taking offers from other companies by offering a world-class
customer experience. We don’t always succeed at that, but we
work very hard to get as close as we can.”

Insight faces a quartet of major multichannel providers in its
markets: AT&T U-Verse, satellite-TV providers DirecTV and Dish
Network and overbuilder WideOpenWest.