Comcast, TWC and Charter promise to reduce truck rolls, improved customer care

Top cable companies continue to make reducing capital expenditures from truck rolls and CPE a high priority, with Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA), Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) and Charter Communications (NASDAQ: CHTR) each reporting reduced service calls in the third quarter.

For its part, TWC said repair-related truck rolls were down 16 percent, with the MSO continuing what it called its "single-minded focus on improving the customer experience." Its technicians are working more closely over the phone with customers, educating them on their service and avoiding unnecessary visits to residences. 

Without revealing specific numbers, Comcast also said its focus on improved customer care is resulting in the execution of fewer technician visits for repairs. Comcast Cable CEO Neil Smit told investors last week, "Our customer experience -- in terms of reducing phone calls, reducing truck rolls, getting things right the first time and really super-serving our customers -- is having an impact."

Relevant to installers, TWC said it's not stopping with efforts to become more service-oriented and make each truck roll it executes more worthwhile. Chairman and CEO Rob Marcus, in fact, described a new video paradigm that leaves the installer out of the picture entirely.

TWC is currently testing in New York a version of its multiscreen app that requires no set-top box. The streaming service, which would include a full programming bundle, would be accessible with username/password authentication based on streaming devices like the Roku 3, which TWC is providing to test subjects. 

"You can simply type in your username and password, and you have video," Marcus said. "And that's certainly a good guy in terms of the economics of doing the business. It's certainly a less capital-intensive model in that customers will likely bring their own devices. And that will reduce the CPE capital requirements for us," he added.

TWC is conducting this beta test as Comcast and Charter Communications experiment with streaming video services of their own. And of course, Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH) has already been out in the market for nine months with its $20-a-month Sling TV service. Both Dish and Comcast have been explicit about their goals -- they are targeting millennial-aged consumers with a stripped down, low-cost video service that appeals to a consumer who only purchases broadband. 

Marcus made it clear that TWC's focus is more on reducing capital expenditures and less on tapping into the younger cord-never market. 

"Let me make very clear: Our beta, our IP video offering, is not over-the-top," Marcus said. "I know it's common to us to equate IP with over-the-top. In fact, this is a video service that we're delivering over our facilities, not over anybody else's. Over time, there may be a TV Everywhere component to this, just like there is one to our traditional video offering. But what we're talking about here is a managed video service over our network, so just to get that clarification out of the way."

For more:
- read this Seeking Alpha transcript

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