Archive for Television

How social media helped resolve my xfinity x1 issues

Author’s Note: Although this article is now several years old, many people still experience similar issues.  In 2015, I moved from Indianapolis into Time Warner Cable (now Spectrum) territory.  Compared to TWC/Spectrum’s offerings in 2017, I truly miss the user interface and Internet speeds that the X1 offered in 2013.

xfinity-Logo_3Two weeks ago, I was drafting a rant about my new xfinity X1 service. I held off on publishing for once I got a resolution.  This story has a happy ending and a great social media/reputation management twist as well.

After 2½ weeks of headache and service visits I can now report that Comcast listened and took the steps necessary to listen to my issues.

So let me start at the beginning…four years ago, I was very excited to move into our new house because I could get AT&T UVerse. We hadn’t even moved in yet, but we had at least a TV in the house so they could install the service. For those four years, I was a big fan on UVerse, but I couldn’t resist the temptation of saving $60/mo. for the next year, by switching to Comcast.

Ordering service on the website was very easy and it only took three days to install the service.  I placed the order on Saturday and the installer came on Tuesday.

A Comcast contractor was the person who did the installation for my service. Initially, I though he did his due diligence by checking out the TV connections — even going into the attic to check the wiring.  He had some concerns about signal levels, but stated they were acceptable.  For some reason he was hung up on my self-purchased modem not working with the new xfinity X1 cable boxes.

The Internet service worked great. I went was about 12 Mbps to almost 30 Mbps down and 1.5 Mbps to 5 Mbps up. I can’t be more ecstatic about that. Unfortunately, getting the TV service was a big challenge.

The first night our box locked up watching a VOD program.  We did the box reboot and everything worked okay again.  Well until Wednesday night … and Thursday night … and then again on Friday night.  We couldn’t go more than 2 hours without having the TV service crash.

Tweeting my frustrations

After waiting on the phone 45-50 minutes to get a service tech, I took to Twitter to vent my frustration. I was well aware that Comcast has a social media response team.

// The first tech, came the following Tuesday, (one week after install) and determined there must be an issue with the signal from the street to the house.  So he replaced that line.

Everything worked fine for a couple of hours, but TV froze up again. Which of course required a reboot. This went on for another couple of days. I’m tried to be patient and level headed, but still used Twitter to vent my frustrations. Below is one several tweets I sent, tagging the @ComcastCares account in the process.  As you will see, my Tweets were getting noticed.

 

 

Again, a Comcast tech was dispatched to the house — this time to swap the box. He came again on a Tuesday (two weeks after install)  A new box installed, this has to clear up the issue.  In reality, it felt like a scene from Groundhog Day. Just after 6:30 p.m. the xfinity X1 box became unresponsive again. That meant more Tweets…

 

This doesn’t include the entire exchange, but the Comcast social media team took action and I received several calls from the Comcast Corporate Escalation Team.

The corporate team put me in direct contact with a technical supervisor here in Indy. After our conversations with the supervisor, he scheduled an appointment to send his best tech and xfinity X1 specialist to the house to figure out what was going on.

Fast forward to Friday, and sure enough, I have two Comcast trucks parked outside the house. The two techs, Doug McB. and Steve L. really knew their stuff and tested the signal at the entry to the house and the TV outlet. The signal was strong on the outside of the house, but lost half it’s strength by the time it got to the TV.

Doug traversed back into my attic, which only has a small opening through the garage storage attic and did some deeper investigation. At some point, before I purchased the house, a new cable was dropped into the kitchen. The person who installed that line used a Radio Shack splitter and the “gold plated” connections to hook up the new line and the old one. Well, the lines were wired wrong.

To add insult to injury, the line in the attic was RG-59, which doesn’t have enough bandwidth to carry a broadband signal. Those two items were the critical pinch point that was causing the issues with my TV.  Doug said my main TV box should have never even worked in the first place.  This should have been corrected or at least addressed with me during the install by the Comcast contractor.

Actually, the contractor did a really crappy job overall.   First, he told me he put an amplifier on the service. Well, he put a plug in but never installed the amplifier in the service box.  He also left of a mess of screws and cable bits underneath the work area. I don’t know how much they save by using contractors, but in this case, I don’t think it was worth it.

The good news was I already had some wires running though the sun room to the TV, so they just replaced the lines from my old satellite dish to the TV.

Lessons learned

There’s are a few lessons to be learned from this experience.

  • Every business person needs to read my last post about doing things half-assed. It’s always better to do it right the first time and avoid those additional service calls.
  • Business should always be listening to what is being said about your brand on social media. I’m very impressed that the Comcast Corporate team really took ownership of the issue and worked to get it fixed.
  • If you’re a consumer, be persistent.  If you vent via social media and don’t get a response, go old school and pick up the phone. Work your way up the ladder until you can talk to someone who can make things happen.

I would hope Comcast can find a way to improve their phone response time and improve their overall consumer experience.  (I’ve heard horror stories from people who had to wait in line at their office.)  Then again, these same executives are trying their hardest to make NBC not suck from 8-11 p.m.

I believe they also need to make it clear that the xfinity X1 service requires the home’s cable plant to be up-to-date.  There are a lot of homes with older wiring and lots of do-it-yourself additions from the analog cable days.  It’s probably in the disclaimers, but should be more front and center.

I’m still curious if there’s going to be some additional charges coming my way for the additional writing and their work, but we will see.

Inbound Marketing – broadcasters are missing the train

Way, way back in the day when I first got my start in digital media I was at WTOL in Toledo.  One of the sections I helped in developing was the “Ask the Expert” sales vertical.

Inbound Marketing before it was cool…

The goal of Ask the Expert was to provide a convergence package between TV and the web. Clients received a TV commercial that directed people to the station website where potential customers could learn more about their business and ask questions.

The solution was great, the client received great television exposure and was able to generate leads through the station’s website.  For 2001, that was an awesome partnership and revenue channel.  The sad thing is in 2013 the program has evolved little, even with the latest craze in inbound marketing, and Google craving high-value relevant content to boost SEO.  A few stations appear to have figured it out.  Many have not.

Before I call out a few examples below … let me get the disclosures out of the way…  (I worked for WTOL-TV from 2001-2004 a Raycom Media Station.  I worked at KRIS-TV from 2004-2007 a Cordillera Communications station and finally worked at WISH-TV from 2007-2012 a LIN Media Station.    All of these stations are currently or were part of the World Now CMS.)

Let’s take a look at some examples:

WBAY-TVwbay This is a textbook example of how the program hasn’t evolved.

The station provides a landing page with 180px wide image that links to a simple landing page or directly to the client’s site
or worse.

Back in the day, I was guilty of doing of all of this. Back then the focus was just getting that link on the high-value site, which TV stations provided.

Great for 2007, but not 2013.

 

Let’s drill down to a specific client:  Todd Wiese Homeselling Team.

The client link is framed into the WBAY site.  There’s absolutely no SEO juice from this link since search engine bots tend to ignore framed content from an external URL.   All of the videos WBAY produces for this client provide no SEO juice.   In fact, a site specific search for WBAY.com and Todd Wiese only return two links.

I wouldn’t speculate what their current Ask The Expert rates are but I’m going to bet it’s several thousand a month.

Bottom Line:  This is a great TV package only.  I think it would be safe to assume Mr. Wiese gets his leads from his TV appearances, not the digital counterpart.

WOOD-TVWOOD-TV Across Lake Michigan is a site managed by a great digital pioneer Dave DeJonge.  He’s been the digital manager at WOOD-TV since my days at WTOL.  His site has been a market leader for over a decade.

He’s been able to keep his Expert vertical alive by keeping the client pages alive with updated relevant content.

There are no direct links — all clients have their own landing page which then links off to individual clients or the client’s website.

WOOD also takes it one step further.  They’ve integrated their Expert program into their daily lifestyle show EightWest.

Again, let us drill down to a specific client: Thomsons Auto Repair

No iframes here. As mentioned above, there are no direct links to the landing page for that client.  But the page isn’t just static.  Each TV segment is posted as their own story and has actual content with that story with a link back to the client’s website.  A site search for WOODTV.com and Thomsons Auto Repair returns 108 individual results.

One bonus, that isn’t being taken full advantage of is all the videos from WOOD-TV and eightWest are syndicated to YouTube.  The descriptions for these segments could be optimized for the client’s SEO.

Another great advantage for eightWest is they get out of the studio for their segments. They’re compelling videos that people actually might want to watch!  So many of these segments are two talking heads on the noon news with a couple of full screens.  Easy TV to produce but boring as hell.

How can broadcasters succeed at Inbound Marketing:

I think broadcasters – especially in television can grab digital inbound marketing dollars if they just implemented a strategy that required someone to take ownership and help make the product succeed.

  1. Create an inbound (vertical) marketing manager and team.  A station isn’t going to be able to pull this off on their own.  It really needs to be a corporate team or a service provided by the content team by the site CMS vendor to get a return on investment.Your newsroom content writers are too busy doing the news and account executives are too busy getting the sales in the door.  Even lifestyle show producers are not concerned with SEO and writing for the web.
  2. The inbound marketing team should include at the minimum a content writer and project manager.  These people are experts in SEO and Inbound Marketing. I’d want that project manager touring the local markets helping AE’s close new business by showcasing what inbound digital marketing and television could do for their business.
  3. The inbound marketing team would need to create content and help manage the customer’s content channel on their company websites.  Yes, I’m talking about the company blog.  Journalists still have this negative connotation towards the word blog.  I personally like the idea of a content channel instead of blogs.
  4. The project manager works with the clients to come up with new articles (blogs) at least twice a month, for the client’s website.  Then that material then becomes the topic for their next television appearance.  After the TV segment airs, the station website posts an article under their expert section pointing back to the client’s blog.
  5. Once the segment airs, the inbound team should optimize that video for the client including links to the original blog — then be syndicating that content to YouTube.

That’s just the basics, but the next logical step includes sending it to the client’s social media channels.

As long as traditional media continues to butter their bread with banner ads and mobile display — they will continue to lose digital revenue to the pure play SEO companies who generating meaningful digital leads for their clients.