What does the Comcast purchase of Time Warner portend for the Cable Industry?

Time Warner Comcast Deal

The cable industry has recently come upon some news that simply can’t be ignored: Comcast, a big player in the cable industry, brokered a deal to buy TimeWarner (TW) Cable, the second biggest cable provider in the United States, for $45 billion. If you’ve been following the media coverage of this deal, then you already know that consumers are spooked. Many cable customers fear a monopoly in the industry will causes prices to skyrocket without any change in service.

With media reports of “beleaguered subscribers” and “cord-cutters,” should cable companies be worried about a mass exodus? Yes and no.

From the consumer’s perspective, there are a few points of contention with the Comcast-TW buy-out. First, Comcast in buying TW, gains a larger share of the market. FCC regulations on market ownership have been back and forth over the past two decades: previously the FCC set restrictions that a cable operator couldn’t control more than 30% of the nation’s subscribers. That restriction was reviewed in courts several times from 2000 to 2009, and eventually repealed in a 2009 case. But the announcement of the Comcast-TW deal sparked new debates in the decades-old fight over regulations between the FCC and the cable industry.

Another challenge facing the changing cable landscape is the question of customer service. As coverage areas expand and media content is delivered in more complex ways—not just through televisions but via Internet and smart mobile devices, cable companies will need to adapt operations to deliver consistently high quality service.

Just as the meaning of “cable service delivery” is changing, the industry-wide problem of poor reputation is also coming to a head. Cable companies have always had a bad rap among consumers. According to Quartz, “The pay-TV industry itself ranks among the least liked US industries.”

cable tv

The uncertainty of the future notwithstanding, there is one way each of the big players in the cable industry could win big-time: smart investment in human capital. The best preventive of customer flight is going to be investment in high quality customer service training—training that leads to more saves, greater customer loyalty, and transitioning agents from customer service to sales.

Comcast and other cable companies  clearly have a stake in the fight for consumers’ attention. One way to build loyalty and trust is to ensure each agent representing the company has the right training to handle complex service calls while making cancellation saves and selling higher value product bundles.

I’ve been training agents in cable company call centers for more than 30 years, so I know a critical moment when I see one. To rebrand the cable industry’s reputation as a whole and to retain customers as new technologies and methods for programming evolve, cable companies will have to invest in a culture change.

I believe that every customer complaint is an opportunity to make a sale. One method available to cable companies is what I’ve called the Quality Conversation Model. In this model, agents build rapport with customers by acknowledging their frustrations and discovering critical information that can help resolve the situation. The Quality Conversation is an agent training process that’s proven to increase close ratios by 13 percent and improve multi-product sales by 14 percent in cable industries. What would it mean if Comcast could improve its close ratio by 5%, let alone 13%?

If you want to learn how the Quality Conversation can help cable companies turn the conversation away from “cord cutting” and towards delivering more sales, then let’s schedule a free strategy session. Send me an email at bob@robertcdavis.net or give me a call at (678) 548-1775 .