Charter's social media-centered customer support group, UMatter2Charter, got canceled recently, with reports emerging just yesterday that were later confirmed by Charter. The issue was one of customer use of the service, or rather, there wasn't one.
Charter revealed that only a very small percentage of their customer base was actually going through social media outlets to contact Charter with problems, so the need to keep the service around was not only slim, but was also distracting from providing service through channels customers actually use. Thankfully, there were no firings as a result of this, and the 16 staff members involved in UMatter2Charter were offered positions in the call centers instead, effective January 1, 2013.
Charter spokeswoman, Anita Lamont provided further elaboration, saying, "We believe speaking directly with a customer is a more personal, effective and consistent way to answer questions, solve an issue or provide information, and we will focus our efforts on these means of communications. We’re committed to treating our customers with great care, and we believe that person-to-person interaction accomplishes that in a more meaningful way for more of our customers."
Indeed, Lamont has a point. Why not put the most support in the place most people use? It reduces hold times, provides maximum expertise on hand to solve problems, and makes for a better call center experience. But at the same time, it raises some disturbing issues that Charter is going to need to work around.
One, it's not exactly the high point of customer service to eliminate the team called "UMatter2Charter". Not only does it not look good on a metaphorical level--if Charter kills the program that proves you matter to Charter, do you really not matter to Charter?-- it also gives a great opportunity for competing firms to launch counter-promotions and take advantage of the cancellation to gain some customers.
Two, look at what's being eliminated: the social media group. Who are the primary users of social media? Younger people, that's who; while it's gaining ground across all age groups, social media is a big part of young people's lives. If Charter is out of that particular pool, it may well imply issues of getting and keeping young customers. With the next generation of customers looking elsewhere for entertainment--like online sources and streaming video--there may well be problems keeping customers, not to mention revenue, into the future.
While Charter may not be on the verge of insulting promotional efforts from Comcast (News - Alert) and the like asserting that Charter customers don't matter, or facing a mass rush to the exits from the younger crowd, these are issues that may have an impact on Charter in the months and years to come. Hopefully, however, Charter already has plans in the works to mitigate any potential impact from such moves, though only time will tell just how effective those countermeasures will prove.
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