Long before my days as editor of National interest or run a think tank program I worked in the telecommunications industry. Specifically, I worked for a cable television company that sold traditional voice, video, and high-speed Internet. For the first few years, it was a great job, but after the competition came and the Great Recession came, everything changed. After battling Lyme disease, I decided to put my health and education first and leave to pursue the career I love. I can honestly say that it was, besides marrying the love of my life, the best decision I have ever made.
I could also see the writing was on the wall: Cable TV – heck, the entire pay cable industry – even as early as 2011, was dying. I knew that if I didn’t go out at some point, I wouldn’t have a job or a future. A recent study claimed that 14,000 a day are leaving pay-TV services – and that’s pretty amazing, but terrifying if you work for Cox, Comcast, Verizon, or others.
The reasons, even almost a decade ago, were obvious. Competition from robust platforms like Verizon Fios and AT&T U-verse was causing the company I worked for to lose massive clients and profits at an astonishing rate. Morale was low, working hours long and wages declining for many. Plus, this was all before the words “cord cutters” were even widely known, even though these trends were only just beginning.
Today, if you work in the cable television industry, I have a tip for you: it’s time to look for another job, and fast. Of course, your business will continue to sell high-speed Internet and phone services, but the days of skyrocketing profits or job security are toast as people abandon traditional cable TV.
Over the next few days, I’ll detail all the reasons I would argue why cable TV – and cable companies – are obsolete and could be wiped out altogether before the end of the decade. And the first reason is obvious that many of us can relate to:
Customer service does not exist:
When you call a cable company or a lot of companies these days their goal is to sell you something or get you to keep what you are calling to cancel no more no less.
Nothing else matters, nothing. Often times, their pay depends on what you do on that phone call, whether you buy or don’t cancel something. Being kind, caring, helpful is not at all part of their training or the philosophy of their company. The client is nothing more than a number, a statistical factoid that is either a plus or a minus that he can bring back to his shareholders.
I know this is all true because I was the guy on the other end of the line who was throwing or begging you not to go. And it made me sick.
If you have a problem that doesn’t involve selling or saving, your cable TV company doesn’t care. Call and speak to a billing or repair agent. Have you ever wondered why your problems are not resolved? This is because the most talented customer service agents turn to sales or retention. The rest goes to billing or general customer service, and often they are outsourced to another country to save money.
And don’t get me started on technical issues. Your decoder does not work? Well, if you can’t fix it yourself and you need help, the cable company will try to automate your help request in some way first. If you need someone, you’ll wait awhile – there’s no profit in helping a product that doesn’t work – and they’ll surely be outsourced to India, the Philippines, or some other non-US location. . These outsourced agents will read the scripts and do their best to get you to hang up and not book an expensive service call.
Remember, it’s all about profit. All. More to come tomorrow.
Harry J. Kazianis is senior manager at the Center of National Interest. His work and ideas have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, Fox News, CNBC, United States today, The Week, The Hill, the American conservative and many other outlets across the political spectrum. Harry enjoys writing about technology issues and products from a real point of view. You can follow him (or yell at him) on Twitter: @Grecianformula.