Remote maker Universal Electronics says its tech support services have saved cable operators $15M

Pay-TV remote control vendor Universal Electronics says its tech support services have saved pay-TV operators more than $15 million. 

Brian Dean, senior director of technical support services for Santa Ana, Calif.-based Universal, says his company -- which supplies about 80 percent of the remotes in the MSO market -- began offering tech support outsourcing to its pay-TV operator clients about 15 years ago.

By virtue of working with the remote controls for so long, and all the OEM equipment those remotes operate, we became really, really good at troubleshooting the home theater environment," Dean told FierceInstaller on the show floor of the SCTE Cable-Tec Expo convention in New Orleans last week. 

Universal has evolved the service into a kind of backup role for MSOs, following up on service call appointments before they're executed. 

"We'll get a phone list for everybody who has been scheduled for a tech visit," Dean said. "We'll scrub them and tweak them and look for certain types of reason codes, stuff that we think we can solve over the phone. We then load them in our dialer, and we'll call these customers before the technician arrives."

Dean said Universal has about a 20 percent success rate in solving problems over the phone and canceling the truck roll.

Universal's tech support unit also monitors CPE such as modems for connectivity problems, issuing proactive calls. 

"We're looking for customers whose modems are in the red periodically," he added. "You're not getting the signal strengths and speeds you're supposed to."

So how does Universal come up with that $15 million in savings figure?

The company said that it has reduced truck rolls by 300,000 to date, at $50 per truck roll.

Beyond these outsourced call center services, Universal also touted a support database that features myriad tools -- and up-to-date codes -- for quickly configuring remote controls. For example, Universal said QuickSet, its embedded technology for automatically configuring remotes with TVs and home theater equipment, has been deployed to 150 million devices worldwide. 

"QuickSet basically allows for automated set up," Universal CEO Paul Arling said. "A customer gets new set top and a new remote, and they plug new HDMI cable into the cable box. What we do is we read the EMI data, the CEC data and the IP data. We find as much info as we can about the TV. We then take that and we match that data to our database. We then send down via [the code] the cloud from our database. We then ask customer to click mute. Does mute work? They answer, 'Yes,' and they're set up. This reduces truck rolls and service calls, too."

For more:
- read this Universal Electronics release

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