Thursday, April 05, 2007

Technology Averse Tech Providers

You'd think that Time Warner, our local cable franchise in Houston, would use technology to improve customer service. After all, this is a company whose message to consumers is that they are a great, all-in-one, high tech telecom provider, giving us television, telephone, and internet services. And, and as I've mentioned before, cable companies are now looking to offer their own branded mobile service.

This morning I called them about my dead internet connection (a not unusual event... sigh), and went through some diagnostic steps on the phone, and eventually was told that they needed to send a technician out.

Fine. The next available appointment was at noon tomorrow. The rep told me, "They will call when they are on their way."

My partner's home in about a 90 second drive from mine, so I thought, "Hmm, I could go work from there tomorrow morning." So I said, "Let me give you my cell phone number - there's somewhere nearby I can get online and get work done until they arrive."

"I'm sorry," the rep told me, "but they will only call the main number on the account, unless you have Time Warner phone service and you have no dial tone."

Me: "You're kidding."

Rep: "That's our policy."

Me: "Doesn't that seem kind of dumb to you?"

Rep: "That's our policy, sir."

The solution (which I didn't think of until after hanging up) would be, of course, to change the number on the account to my cell number. (That probably wouldn't have been a good idea to do today; once the service order is entered, it might go into some other system that doesn't get the update, and who knows what kind of chaos would have resulted.)

But here's a company that wants to be my one telecom provider (they're not, and won't be anytime soon)... but won't call my mobile phone when they're on the way to my house for a repair, to save me from being stuck there waiting.

Bad service. Bad use of technology; not only should they be willing to do that, they should be offering to send me an SMS with an estimated time of arrival. Offering, not waiting for me to ask. They should be leveraging all the technology their customers are walking around with to provide superior service at a minimal cost.

But that, it seems, is not in a cable company's corporate DNA. Time Warner Cable's tagline used to be, "Now Anything's Possible." I guess they realized that no, not even basic things are possible, and dropped it in a momen of honesty. Now the slogan is, "The Power of You." That seems kind of appropriate, because they're not contributing much to our relationship.

1 comment:

Mark Cahill said...

Mindlessly inflexible policies that don't make sense for customers, but make your brain dead service reps more comfortable - they remind me of Spinal Tap - "ours go to 11."

Who do they think they are, the phone company? ;-)