Someone Left Digital in My Yard

IMG_0179

Comcast (Personalized Experience)

Size matters and when companies want to create personalized digital experiences for customers they better follow the bouncing ball.    Everything is supposed to be easier and better right?  The problem is when companies like Comcast invest money in making it easier to have self service transactions which amounts to (saving money for themselves ultimately) they are not dealing with their customer service problems.

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said “What unfortunately happens is we have about … 350 million interactions with consumers a year, between phone calls and truck calls. It may be over 400 million and that doesn’t count any online interactions which I think is over a billion. You get one-tenth of one-percent bad experience, that’s a lot of people – unacceptable. We have to be the best service provider or in the end, this company won’t be what I want it to be.”  

That was in December of 2013 where he was quoted in an article about constantly being on the worst companies in customer services list .    That was 3 years ago.. Comcast consistently has the bad rap of being “worst”

Comcast wants to clean up its notoriously messy act, and the telecom company plans spend $300 million and hire thousands of new employees in a bid to improve its awful customer service. 

You Left “A” Digital in My Yard

Comcast dug up my yard, not unusual I know but what they left me with was a horrible digital and physical experience that amounted to me self servicing my own yard.  In other words,  I am having to take care of their mess and pay for it.   I have a nice web interface that I can pay my bill through though.   All this digital strategy and poor customer service feels like I am talking to the television through my old 1985 remote asking for a channel change.   So as I talk to myself I will replace the dirt, grass and holes in my yard.

They Choose

Let’s examine for a moment what they could have done and how the experience could have leveraged a “Digital” strategy effectively without leaving me .. with a hole or in my case a series of holes in my yard.

  1. Notification –  They simply could have their work system tied to their customer systems in the same way they deal with outages.  “Good day, Comcast will be performing some routine maintenance in your area,  if you have any problems or concerns please go to www or dial xxx to let us know.”
  2. Follow Up –  They have contractors perform various aspects of digging and maintenance, probably a good idea to have at least one company representative at least have a quick check on the work.  Why wait for a problem?   There is an associated cost but the savings and the returns due to “world class” customer service will pay off.
  3. Follow Through – If a customer calls you, keep your promises. (They didn’t)

In 2014 Comcast spent 3 Billion on advertisement. I sure wish I was an advertising company as maybe they would pay more attention to me.   The reason a company that in some cases is the only service provider to millions (you get that) has to pay that amount of money in advertising is because something is wrong.

This Isn’t About Digital?

Sure it is…  When consulting companies tell you about the “Digital Experience” what are they saying?

121

Oh.. yeah.. this is about the “Customer Experience”

Companies are treating and buzzing about this like it is a new thing.  It isn’t a new thing, it is taking care of your customers and striving to be the best at it.   It is leveraging whatever tools and technologies you have in place to make for a better experience so customers stay or come back.  It is working hard to “delight” and “serve” them.   If a wait staff spit in your dinner and threw it at you or ate some of your food, served it up and asked you to pay them more money than what was on the menu, you would walk out.  In this case, you are dining at one of if not the only place to eat in town.   You think it isn’t costly?
Here is my message to Comcast…

Ok, you got me…  funny right?  It is costing me a lot of money to fix what you damaged but it will be my absolute pleasure from here forward to donate my time to anyone who wants to “cut the cord” in fact, I will help people make antennas to get high quality digital signals over the air.

Cord cutting 101: How to quit cable for online streaming video

http://time.com/money/3767927/cable-tv-without-paying-bill/

http://www.popularmechanics.com/culture/tv/how-to/a6608/build-your-own-digital-tv-antenna/

http://lifehacker.com/how-to-choose-the-best-over-the-air-antenna-for-free-hd-1569752514

Cutting the Cord **TCP Family Edition**

Cutting the cord is an emotional decision — Rob Liles 

Simply put, people are looking to save money and have better control of their broadcast and content choices.   The cable companies are responding by increasing the content, your channel choices and of course the price.  It is frustrating no matter where you live and what cable provider you have.  It is currently estimated that 1% of cable subscribers are “cutting the cord.”

That is a small number but it represents a population that will grow leaps and bounds as cable becomes more expensive and money becomes tighter.

What do you do?

My friend Lloyd has collected some excellent material on “cutting the cord” that represents a lot of different areas of thought on what you can do.    For the sake of this blog entry, I am going to keep it simple.

Where do you live?

The first thing you should look to figure out is to determine what kind of reception you will get in your area and what kind of antenna you will need to maximize your channel options.  You can go to http://www.antennaweb.org/ to get an idea of your situation.   You can start to think about whether or not you will need to put an antenna on the house or near the television.

Here are some examples of antenna’s built by Rob Liles. 
IMG_20111105_162336 IMG_20111105_162354 FracAntYou have indoor and outdoor fractal antenna that you can build.  http://www.digitalhome.ca/ota/superantenna/index.htm (Rob is handy but he works hard to keep things simple, practical and inexpensive).

I have a signal! Now what?

I live in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia, that gives me between 36-45 channels over the air that I can receive!  Due to geographic, terrain and environmental conditions and of course other factors reception will vary.   It is important to understand what you can receive up front because it will influence what you will set up for streaming.  For example, if I can receive NBC, CBS and ABC then I may want to think about a Roku because we can stream (USTV http://www.ustvnow.com/roku/) live streams from the http://www.ustvnow.com/ can provide free streams from a lot of the major channels including, USA, Bravo, Scifi, TBS, and others.

What if I DON’T have a signal?

If you don’t have a signal over the air, you will need to go with a Roku.  http://thewirecutter.com/reviews/roku-3-best-streaming-box/

I am not affiliated with Roku in any way.  I have been researching and testing lots of options including most recently the Raspberry Pi, which you essentially configure and set up yourself.

Configuration Requirements

Video for Setup but that may not be enough.

Call the cable company and tell them that you are done with them!  Take your box and &*@#!!.. (just kidding).

  1. What you can do is order a Roku from (http://www.amazon.com/Roku-4200R-3-Streaming-Player/dp/B00BGGDVOO/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1372607388&sr=8-4&keywords=Roku)
  2. If for some reason you don’t have an HDMI port on your television you can get a converter here (http://sewelldirect.com/HDMI-to-VGA-RGB-and-Component-YPbPr-Converter-Audio.asp)
  3. Hook up the device to your television and play with it for a little while!  Get comfortable with using it and start to ween yourself from cable.  Remember what Rob said?  It is an emotional decision to cut the cable for some reason and it may take you a month to just go ahead and cut the cord.   If you feel that the cost savings are “worth any risk” to you, then call the cable company and have them keep your internet services but cancel cable.
  4. Using a wifi is ok, but if you can actually use a wired connection from your router / switch to the Roku, that would be my recommendation.

There you have it!

You need a

  • TV -HDMI capable
  • Internet Connection
  • Roku
  • A technically oriented AARP member!
  • A desire to save a few bucks or some dislike of the cable company.

You are ready to go!  If you want other complicated configurations like (HTPC, or XBMC on a device) we can address that too!  I think the best configuration of all is an HTPC with a dual channel tv tuner, running windows 7 media edition and XBMC.  That being said, that configuration could set you back over $400.oo as opposed to the Roku which will set you back about $100.00 +/- the cost of video cables.

Phone

If you have a phone at home and you want to take the costs from $35.00+ dollars a month to $3.00 for taxes, you can get an OOMA and hook it up to your router and your phone base!    If you do that and you use this link

 

 

I have since built a RaspberryPi with XBMC (see this tutorial) http://mymediaexperience.com/raspberry-pi-xbmc-with-raspbmc/