If you've been reading this blog at all you know that me and DirecTV have been at war for quite awhile - not just because they done me wrong, but because they have been a mess of broken promises, processes, bad policies, poor culture and a myriad of other "bads" that make for what for me (and many others) a miserable customer experience. Well, about two months ago (less than that, really) they hired Ellen Filipiak as the Senior VP of Customer Care to fix all of this. Starting today, and repeating every two months on the first of the month, Ms. Filipiak graciously consented to let us know how much progress and what progress they are making to transform DirecTV from its very broken state to a customer-centric company. So, take it away, Ellen Filipiak and readers, feel free to drop comments in if you think it merits it or send me an email and let me know what you're thinking if you care to be more private about it.
First of all, I want to thank Paul for his invitation to blog here over the next few months. As he recognized, I joined DIRECTV in April specifically because it is experiencing unprecedented change and its resulting challenges.This change presents so many opportunities - both for customers and the organization - to benefit from service excellence, and I am moving forward quickly to make that happen.
DIRECTV is positioned to be the market leader for HD programming this fall. One out of every four households has an HD-capable set, and they want HD programming. DIRECTV is best positioned to meet that demand. Honoring our commitment has taken a tremendous amount of preparation to get customers installed and ready to go when more HD channels arrive this fall. As a company, we could have managed customer expectations better earlier in the year.
By example, some months ago, customer demand for HD receivers put our service systems to the test. We managed available supply of receivers to meet the tremendous demand. Some customers experienced delays and frustration getting installed and that can have a cascading effect on service for those affected.
Also in the last year, we moved to a lease program for our receivers, rather than the owned model. This is a change, particularly for our longer term customers, from past practice. Our senior executive team regularly reads e-mails, forums and blog postings regarding this, and has challenged us all to respond better to questions customers have about leasing versus owning.
As Paul and others know, enjoying HDTV requires an investment by the consumer, in a television set, receiver and programming, and by us, in developing more advanced receivers, broadcasting equipment and programming content. Although customers do have the option of owning their DIRECTV equipment, leasing makes the receiver part of this equation more affordable for customers. Since we are sharing in that investment, we feel it's fair for us to ask for a service commitment, even from our long-term, loyal customers who choose to upgrade to HD. However, we do need to improve our communication with customers who obtain DIRECTV equipment from a retail location, to make sure they understand that the they are still operating under the lease model and do not own the equipment.
The good news is we have plenty of receivers in stock and with these new receivers, we have the ability to provide HD programming upgrades to customers' homes on a national level through our satellites. What this means for customers are fewer phone calls to make, fewer appointments to wait for, and new features to enjoy - such as new HD channels like the recently announced HD Discovery Channels, History Channel and Starz channels. DIRECTV also provides customers with access to interactive services such as NASCAR HotPass, and MLB Extra Innings SuperFan package as well as updates to the program guide or CallerID features at the flip of a switch. In fact, in recent weeks we have rolled out many updates to these receivers and that has significantly reduced calls and complaints - it's truly exciting to watch this happen so quickly.
I also recognize from talking with customers and employees that we have many opportunities to enhance the customer service we provide. With this potential in mind, I have identified several key priorities to address including:
- Resolving a customer's issue on the first call
- Ensuring our representatives have the training and systems they need to successfully assist our customers
- Make it easy for customers to get to the representative who can best respond to the reason they are calling
- Informing customers that there are many ways to get information and service from DIRECTV, including directv.com, for transactions such as paying their bill, viewing recent account transactions and ordering pay per view.
To accomplish these objectives, I am touring our call centers around the country in June to seek out the best of what this organization has to offer. Innovation is found on the frontline where customers reach out to a company - and this is where we will find our best answers.
Overall, I would like to see us continue to leverage the technology we are rolling out to simply the television viewing experiencing so that our customers can best enjoy the increasing variety of advanced television choices that DIRECTV offers.
I look forward to posting future installments here.
Thanks again for the welcome and we can all look forward to an exciting fall, a season of change for DIRECTV.
Senior Vice President, Customer Care