Expert Says Time Warner Cable Customers Are Cutting The Cord Because Of Bad Customer Service

Much of the coverage surrounding the phenomenon of cord-cutting has focused on the cost savings of ditching cable. But some of the blame for all these fleeing customers has to be pinned on the cable industry’s notoriously bad customer service.

After all, whenever we ask readers to nominate businesses for Worst Company In America, there are several names — Comcast, Time Warner Cable, DirecTV, Dish, Cox — that might as well be etched forever into the first-round brackets. Comcast even took home the Worst Company title back in 2010.

So it’s not surprising to us that when Ira Kalb, marketing professor at the Univ. of Southern California, wrote a piece for BusinessInsider about Time Warner Cable’s woes, that he chose to focus on TWC’s lack of customer service.

He points to the most recent American Customer Satisfaction Index numbers, where TWC was the third-lowest rated cable provider, behind only Charter and Comcast. In fact TWC’s score was the eighth-worst score of all companies, across all industries surveyed by ACSI.

Meanwhile, the company has been bleeding subscribers, losing 140,000 in the third quarter of 2012 alone, writes Kalb.

The problem, he explains, is that TWC and other cable companies — many of whom are also losing customers — don’t understand the “Lifetime Value” of a customer.

Kalb writes:

If they did, they would not have to spend so much money getting back what they lost. They would have taken better care of those who called to complain about outages or snow on their TV sets. They would have done a better job of training customer service people who routinely “played dumb” during an outage or were rude to subscribers calling for service. They would not have made it so difficult for subscribers to get credits for outages and other technical problems. The executives in these companies need to understand that they exist and prosper because they satisfy the needs of their customers.

As for TWC’s recent $50 million ad-spend on a campaign intended to lure customers back, Kalb argues that it’s too late for some cord-cutters.

“Once they lose the trust of the public, it is hard to get it back,” he writes. “Even if the ad campaign is exceptional, it will not work unless the product is significantly improved.”

We reached out to Time Warner Cable to see if it had any comment on this story and received this baffling statement in response:

“The beauty of the guarantee is that customers can check us out again, risk-free, and decide for themselves whether we’re better.”