A couple of high-profile bloggers are talking today about customer support in the cable and telecom industries. Marguerite Reardon over at CNET has a long post up on what the cable and telco giants are doing to improve customer service, while Karl Bode over at Broadband Reports argues that many of the changes are more PR initiatives than actual improvements, like Comcast’s outreach on Twitter.
This online conversation is the perfect excuse to return to last month’s posting on cable set-top diagnostics. I mentioned the launch of the Motorola SmartStream Terminal Data Collector (STDC) solution, but did not have a chance to go into any details. In brief, STDC collects information from set-tops on everything from error messages to the temperature of a given box. Previously this type of data was only available from a set-top screen on site, but with STDC, the information can be scanned and analyzed remotely.
The movement in the cable industry toward remote management of devices has huge potential. Not only does remote management save money by eliminating truck rolls, it has the potential to bring tangible improvements to customer service, and ultimately to help cable operators change the perception of customer support in their industry.
As an example, when a subscriber calls with a complaint about cable TV service, a customer service representative today usually cannot pinpoint whether the problem is located at the subscriber’s house or in the cable plant. With STDC on the other hand, that CSR could immediately determine where the problem is occurring and then either send a technician to the house or manage it at the plant. That saves frustration on every front and presumably resolves whatever problem exists a lot faster.
The STDC solution is also part of a larger vision of providing operators with a unified interface into all the broadband-connected devices in a consumer’s home. Specifically, operators should be able to monitor problems and even prevent them when a device is connected to the broadband network. After all, who doesn’t want to reduce time on customer support calls?
More STDC screenshots after the jump. Continue reading