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Cable Technology Feature Article

June 13, 2013

Virtual Hold Helps Cable Companies Cross the Conversation Bridge

By Rich Steeves, TMCnet Managing Editor

For years now, Virtual Hold Technology (News - Alert) has been working to help companies cross the conversation bridge. VHT is aware that, in this new multi-channel world, customers have preferred methods of contact when they want to reach out to a business. These same customers don’t want to start a conversation, say, on a website or mobile device, and then be forced to call an 800 number. And they certainly don’t want to have to recite their account information over and over again each time they go through a different channel. This is the problem that Virtual Hold wants to solve for companies, and this year, representatives from VHT attended The Cable Show in Washington, DC to bring their message – and technology – to cable companies.

According to Jeremy Starcher, product marketing and business development manager at VHT, the company is trying to make cable companies aware that the conversation gaps that exist. He stated that the two major themes of the show, increasing speed and access, are often viewed from the technology perspective. But he pointed out that these tenants apply to the customer experience as well.

VHT already works with Comcast (News - Alert) to help bridge the gap between consoles and customer service agents. For example, let’s say a video-on-demand purchase does not work for some reason. In this case, customers are often prompted to dial an 800 number and go through a long process of resolving the issue. Instead of this outdated model, Virtual Hold technology can prompt customers to enter their phone numbers into the set top box and get a context-aware call back. Starcher stated that other cable providers are interested in this technology as well.

Starcher pointed to studies that show that customer effort is a better indicator of customer loyalty than satisfaction is. He says it makes no sense so shackle your smartphone to a rotary phone. If you do, you fail your customer. His vision is “to kill toll-free numbers and unplug the DVR.” When customers start the journey online, as more and more of us our doing, they want to stay there. And from an enterprise point of view, companies want customers to go to the website but they make the process more difficult than it has to be. The Conversation Bridge technology can work for any service provider, and Starcher thinks it has a strong future in the cable space. If he’s right, then I can use the conversation bridge to help me rent The Bridge on the River Kwai.

Edited by Rich Steeves

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