Have you ever been in a situation where you’ve been given too little time, a tiny budget, insufficient tools and you’ve managed to turn out something really cool in spite of that?
Has it ever happened that you leveraged your creativity and talent to deliver something amazing and had your customer not even notice? You didn’t even get credit?
I just watched that happen this week. I’ll tell you what happened, and how you can make sure that you get credit (and support for future projects) when you’ve done a great job.
Google Fiber is coming to my town!
A few months ago I was thrilled to learn that Google had chosen Charlotte as one of the next cities where they will roll out Google fiber. Even though I live outside the city, and there’s zero chance that Google fiber will provide service, I was still excited.
One of the benefits of competition is that it shakes up the marketplace and challenges the status quo. Given the fact that internet service providers in the US are consistently rated the lowest in customer satisfaction, shaking up the status quo is a good thing.
Almost immediately after Google announced that it would be launching a residential 1Gbps service at $75/month, AT&T and Time Warner responded with promises of improved speeds.
Having worked in the telecom industry, one thing that I know about cable and phone companies is that they are VERY technology driven.
There are a large number of very smart geeks working there whose job it is to combine an ever-changing set of technologies into product offerings that support their customer needs. They frequently do it with short deadlines, insufficient funding and little organizational support.
Which brings me to today’s story:
After months of having my Time Warner internet service run without maintenance or attention, I was having some challenges. I restarted my router. I restarted my cable modem, and all was working. A few days later, the problem recurred. At this point I decided it was worth some investigation.
When I signed up for service, the sales people and I went back and forth over “bundles” and “features” and “options” and of course prices. We settled on a 30Mbps download/5Mbps upload service. They offered speeds as high as 50Mbps, but we settled on 30.
When I began to troubleshoot my issues with my cable connection, I ran a speed test and discovered that I was getting almost 120Mbps! I figured something was wrong with their bandwidth throttle, and it would get fixed soon.
A few days later I checked again, and was still getting that kind of speed. I decided to call tech support. I said “I appreciate higher speeds, but I think that your throttling algorithm is not working properly. I don’t want to pay more, so I thought I’d let you know.
The tech told me “Oh yeah. We upgraded everyone in your area. You now get 200Mbps download, 20Mbps upload.”
Here’s the thing. Cable providers are consistently low scoring in customer satisfaction.
In the 2015 ACSI survey, Time Warner Cable had a score of 51 out of 100. (The average company surveyed was around 75.)
In this case, they upgraded my speed – giving me almost 7x the performance AT THE SAME PRICE – but didn’t even tell me about it.
What might happen to their customer satisfaction score if they advertise the fact that they are giving me more and not raising the price?
These geeks did something great. Something that I’m really happy about. something I might have been willing to pay more for. (I did go buy a faster cable modem today because my old one could only deliver 100Mbps, and they have provisioned DOUBLE that.)
Why didn’t they TELL ME ABOUT IT?
All marketers are liars
At least that’s what Seth Godin said in the book of the same name.
Now I know that “marketing” and “sales” are dirty words when it comes to most geeks. There’s a geek joke that goes “How can you tell when a technology sales person is lying? When their lips are moving.” Too many times geeks have been burned by promises made in the sales process that never materialized in the implementation process.
As a result, we tend to be skeptics and to disregard the “sales-y” stuff we read.
What if the TWC geeks had done something different? They have my physical and email address. They know exactly what equipment I have provisioned at the house. All of that geeky data is in a database they already have.
What if they had taken the time to identify all of the affected customers and send a series of emails like:
- “Something cool is about to happen, and it won’t cost you a thing.“
- “We’ve noticed that your cable modem can handle more speed, but if you want the MOST speed let’s help you get upgraded to a faster one.” Here’s a guide. (Or, call our specialists to help schedule a tech to come install a new one for only $175 plus rental fee.)
- “Here’s a list of stuff you can do with 200Mbps that you COULDN’T do before.“
- “Great news: we’ve gone live. Your internet connection is blazing fast!”
Let’s learn a lesson from Time Warner.
- Take some time to think about how to tell customers about the cool stuff you’re doing.
- Think about what matters to them.
- Think about the words that they would use.
Then say it out loud.
Remember Steve Jobs? Back when the iPod launched, all of the competing MP3 players were marketed by storage capacity: 64MB, 128MB, etc.
Steve Jobs came out in his black turtleneck and bluejeans, slid a sleek white and chrome box out of his pocket and said “1,000 songs in your pocket.“
Craft a few messages. Yes, it takes a little time, but if your customers understand and appreciate the cool stuff you’re doing for them, you’ll get the tools, resources, budget and team to do even more great work.
I wish that TWC had thought of this. And I’m enjoying my higher internet speed.
Oh – and to the geeks at TWC who made my faster internet connection possible: THANK YOU!