It may have been born out of an Internet service lemon, but Insight Communications's branded InsightBB.com cable-modem service has managed to add enough operational improvement sugar in six months to make a decent lemonade.
That includes a streamlined installation process and more user-friendly support services for the MSO's 104,000 high-speed data customers. And soon, customers may get a choice of ISPs.
Building a better cable-modem service began even before former provider Excite@Home Corp. imploded in February. At the time of the conversion, Insight was in the process of taking over its tier-1 basic billing and sales-support systems.
Since then, the MSO has also taken command of the technical tier-2 calls. The result is a single source from which customers can get answers.
"I think it is better for the customer, in that they are talking directly to an Insight representative, and we have been able to reduce truck rolls because of that — because they are talking to people that understand both the ISP and the cable service," said Insight senior vice president of operations for high-speed data Jim Stewart.
Insight also has improved the installation process for new customers. In the @Home days, the installation appointment was a lengthy affair, with the cable technician doing all of the work.
Nowadays, Insight has cut the appointment time in half through an assisted self-installation process.
"An installer will still go out and harden the drop and put in an extra outlet, but doesn't deal with the computer at all," said Stewart. "They will set up the modem and make sure it is synced to the modem, but they hand a start-up disk to the customer. And the customer really sets up their own settings and moves forward with InsightBB."
About 80 percent of the time, the customer needs no extra help to complete the process, Stewart said.
Customers also can find more guidance on the InsightBB.com Web site, which now includes an extensive help section. Insight uses experiences from its systems to make the help page information more relevant to users.
"What we do is we talk to our systems regularly and we ask them, 'What kind of questions are you getting?' so that we can develop something for the help page," said Insight director of high-speed operations Gloria Bushelman.
The fact most people are visual learners has also led to a more graphic instructional strategy.
"We do screen shots of everything, so when they go through to make changes, they can actually see what is going to happen," Bushelman said.
With better explanations for the most common problems, Insight has found the number of e-mails that request technical help have dropped, Stewart added.
On the horizon, Insight also looking to offer multiple ISPs on its cable-modem network. Stewart said the MSO is in negotiations with interested providers, and he expects deals to be solidified in the late third quarter or the fourth quarter.