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Opinion Editorials

Time Warner CEO: best service is when customers don’t need to call

(Opinion) While Time Warner Cable may not be able to make your customer service dreams come true, here is how to insure your clients never have to call customer service at your company.



customer service

customer service

Time Warner’s attitude toward customer service

If you’ve ever said to a friend, “so I called Timer Warner last night,” you all let out an exasperated sigh and there is probably a universal eye roll, because the truth is that their customer service is horrible. It’s the very reason they’re continually ranked as one of the worst customer service experiences in America.

Former Chief Operating Officer and Chief Finance Officer at Time Warner, Rob Marcus has been named as the next CEO, and despite rumors that the company is about to be taken over and reorganized, he is making bold statements as to what his new position means for the company.

“Putting the customer at the center of everything we do” Marcus stated, adding that “the best customer service is when the customers don’t need to contact us at all for service.”

What does this all mean?

I’ll bet you a dollar that by this time next year, customer service will still suck at Time Warner, despite Marcus’ polished statement to the contrary, even if they are not taken over. Why? Because when you hire and train people to be on the front line but don’t empower them to be empathetic or make decisions, your customer service will still suck.

But let’s say Marcus is right and that he can fix the problem. He can’t, but let’s just say that he can. Imagine their service improves to the point that you never even have to contact the company for help, be it on the phone or web.

What does this mean for your company?

Marcus’ lofty goals may not become a reality at TWC, but it can become a reality at your company. Over the holidays, do a complete audit of all of the following to make sure consumers are having a perfect experience and never having to call because they’re confused, upset, or lost:

  1. Your website – click every link to make sure it works, try every feature and make sure that it works AND is intuitive – if a 70 year old couldn’t make it work without explanation, it’s too complicated. Make sure there are no broken images, that content is useful and relevant, and your contact information is extremely obvious.
  2. Your phone system – whether it’s just you and clients call your cell, or if you’re running a larger operation, act like a customer and call. See if the phones work properly, how long it takes to get a call back, whether or not the call back is operating on the proper script, and that an answer is forthcoming, courteous, and fast.
  3. Your emails – is your auto-responder working correctly? Does your newsletter have an opt-out function and it is offering what consumers are looking for? Do you and yours respond within the hour or make promises that you keep? Is the tone correct?
  4. Your offices or store – is everything tidy and easy to get to? Is it laid out intuitively? Can people accomplish their goals without being frustrated? Act like a customer and walk through as if for the very first time – pretend you’re a 19 year old who has never been in your office before and roll your eyes as much as possible to find your weak spots.
  5. Your technologies – if customers are required to use an app to do any portion of their business with you, test it out right now. If you’ve gone paperless, make sure all of the features still work, or read the site to make sure you fully understand the offering and aren’t shorting your customers. If clients have to use a third party app to communicate with you, test out the app and research alternatives in case there is a better offering out there today.

Every single person in your company from the janitor to the C-suite should be empowered to make decisions and tell customers what they can do, not just what they can’t. All employees must be trained to be empathetic problem solvers, or your customer service will suck as much as Time Warner has admitted theirs does.

You too can create an experience that is focused on the consumer without their ever having to get upset and call your customer service division, or worse, call and yell at you personally. Marcus may or may not be able to make this work at TWC, but you can most definitely make this a reality at your own company.

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  1. rolandestrada

    December 19, 2013 at 5:21 pm

    It sounds like what Apple has been doing for years. I don’t think this guy is breaking any new ground here.
    Cable and cell providers remind me of an joke bumper sticker from back in the day when AT&T was the only landline phone company. The bumper sticker had the Bell logo and read something like “We’re the phone company. We don’t care – we don’t have to”.

    It’s great that a new CEO would want to better the company’s customer service. However cable companies hopefully have larger customer problem looming. Customers are tired of paying huge cable bills for the pleasure of watching 10 to 15 Channels. Their customer service sucks but so does their product. I look forward to the day when cable companies are mostly relegated to being bandwidth providers and I pick and choose which channels I want to pay for. That day will come and the cable companies will kicking and screaming the whole way.

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Opinion Editorials

The truth about unemployment from someone who’s been through it

(EDITORIAL) Unemployment benefits aren’t what you thought they were. Here’s a first-hand experience and what you need to know.




Have I ever told you how I owed the government over two grand because of unemployment in 2019, and only just finished paying it back this year?

This isn’t exactly the forum for memoirs, but this is relevant to everyone. So I’ll tell y’all anyway.

It all started back in 2018 when I came into work early, microwaved my breakfast, poured coffee, and got pulled into a collaboration room to hear, “We love you and your work, April, but we’ve been bought out and you’re being laid off.”

It was kind of awkward carrying my stuff out to the car with that Jimmy Dean sandwich in my mouth.

More awkward still was the nine months of unemployment I went through afterwards. Between the fully clothed shower crying, the stream of job denial, catering to people who carried rocks in their nostrils at my part-time job (yes, ew, yes, really), and almost dying of no-health-insurance-itis, I learned a lot!

The bigger lesson though, came in the spring of the following year when I filed my taxes. I should back up for a moment and take the time to let those of you unfamiliar with unemployment in Texas in on a few things that aren’t common knowledge.

1: You’re only eligible if you were laid off. Not if you had quit. Not fired. Your former company can also choose to challenge your eligibility for benefits if they didn’t like your face on the way out. So the only way you’re 100% guaranteed to get paid in (what the state calls) “a timely manner”, is a completely amicable split.

2: Overpayments have to go back. Immediately. If there’s an error, like several thousand of Texans found out this week, the government needs that cash back before you can access any more. If you’re not watching your bank account to make sure you’re getting the exact same check each time and you have an overpayment, rest assured that mistake isn’t going to take long to correct. Unfortunately, if you spent that money unknowingly–thought you got an ‘in these uncertain times’ kinder and gentler adjustment and have 0 income, you have a problem. Tying into Coronavirus nonsense is point three!

3: There are no sick days. If ever you’re unable to work for any reason, be it a car accident, childbirth, horrible internal infection (see also no-health-insurance-itis), you are legally required to report it, and you will not be paid for any days you were incapacitated. Personally, my no-health-insurance-itis came with a bad fever and bedrest order that axed me out of my part time job AND killed my unemployment benefits for the week I spent getting my internal organs to like me again. But as it turned out, the payment denial came at the right time because–

4: Unemployment benefits are finite. Even if you choose to lie on your request forms about how hard you’re searching for work, coasting is ill-advised because once the number the state allots you runs out…it’s out. Don’t lie on your request forms, by the way. In my case, since I got cut from my part-time gig, I got a call from the Texas Workforce Commission about why my hours were short. I was able to point out where I’d reported my sickness to them and to my employer, so my unpaid week rolled over to a later request date. I continued to get paid right up until my hiring date which was also EXACTLY when my benefits ran out.

Unemployment isn’t a career, which is odd considering the fact that unemployment payments are qualified by the government as income.

Ergo, fact number five…

5: Your benefits? They’re taxed.

That’s right, you will be TAXED for not having a job.

The stereotype of the ‘lazy unemployment collector burdening society’ should be fading pretty quickly for the hitherto uninformed about now.

To bring it back to my story, I’d completely forgotten that when I filed for unemployment in the first place, I’d asked for my taxes NOT to be withheld from it–assuming that I wasn’t going to be searching for full time work for very long. I figured “Well, I’ll have a tax refund coming since I’ll get work again no problem, it’ll cancel out.”

Except, it was a problem. Because of the nine month situation.

I’d completely forgotten about it by the time I threw myself into my new job, but after doing my taxes, triple checking the laws and what I’d signed, it was clear. Somehow…despite being at my lowest point in life, I owed the highest amount in taxes, somewhere around the 2k mark.

Despite being based on a system that’s tied to how much income you were getting before, and all the frustrating “safeguards” put in place to keep payments as low and infrequent as possible, Uncle Sam still wants a bite out of the gas-station Hostess pie that is your unemployment check. And as I’m writing this, more and more people are finding that out.

I’d like to end this on a more positive note…so let’s say we’ve all been positively educated! That’s a net gain, surely.

Keep your heads up, and masked.

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Opinion Editorials

COVID-19 acts are unfortunately too short sighted

(BUSINESS NEWS) The biggest flaw in the CARES act is simply that it won’t last. Numerous issues have extended the life of COVID-19 but the act hasn’t matched it.



rev pay issues act

The CARES act gives an additional $600 weekly to those on unemployment assistance. The idea being that, combined with the $380 already granted by unemployment, the payments would roughly equal the wage of the average worker prior to the pandemic- about $1,000 weekly.

But on July 31st, the expansion that CARES provides will expire, and benefits will return to pre-pandemic amounts. Those currently receiving the maximum payment will see a 61% decrease in their income. In states that offer lower benefit payments, that percentage goes even higher. All of this comes during a national rental crisis, and moratoriums on evictions across the country are also nearing their ends or being extended last minute.

This isn’t the first or only “yuge” hole in the federal government’s COVID-19 safety net. Many Americans (this writer included) have seen neither hide nor hair of their promised stimulus checks. The HEROES act, which is being billed as a second round of stimulus money, remains under debate- as it has been for several weeks.

And the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which requires certain businesses to provide two weeks of paid leave to workers who may be sick (or caring for someone who is) has plenty of problems too, namely the laundry list of exceptions to it.

This is just the most recent push to return to the pre-virus economy before effective protective measures have been put in place for workers and consumers alike. After all, with cases of COVID-19 spiking again in the US, it’s apparent that the act is still absolutely necessary. Our lawmakers either lack patience, or compassion – take your pick. Frankly, I say it’s both.

Not only have countless health experts warned that reopening too early will be disastrous, but if a second lockdown is in our future, all of the time, money, and human lives that went into reopening will be wasted.

There is a silver lining among the storm clouds on the horizon. Because ballooning unemployment has created long wait times for benefit applicants, unemployment assistance programs are shelling out retroactive back payments to those deemed eligible.

Good news, at least, for laid off workers who have been waiting months to hear their fate.

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Opinion Editorials

Women-owned businesses make up 42% of all businesses – heck yeah!

(EDITORIAL) Women-owned businesses make a huge impact on the U.S economy. They make up 42% of all businesses, outpace the national growth rate by 50%, and hire billions of workers.



women-owned business

Women entrepreneurs make history in the U.S as female-owned businesses represent 42% of all businesses, while continuing to increase at DOUBLE the national growth rate!

Women are running the world, and we are here for it! The 2019 American Express State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, states 13 million women are now self-employed entrepreneurs. From 2014 to 2019, women-owned businesses grew 21%. Think that’s impressive? Well, businesses owned by women of color grew 43% within the same timeframe, with a growth rate of 50%, and currently account for 50% of all women-owned businesses! Way to go! What this also means is that women employ over 2.4 million workers who together generate $422.5 billion in revenue.

What can we learn from these women that’ll help you achieve success in your businesses?

  1. Get informed: In a male-dominated business industry, women are often at a disadvantage and face multiple biases. So, know your stuff; study, research, and when you think you know it all…dig deeper!
  2. Stay hungry: Remember why you started this journey. Write down notes and reminders, goals, and inspirations, hang them up and keep them close.
  3. Ask for advice: Life is not meant to go through alone, so ask questions. Find a mentor and talk to people who have walked a similar path. Learning from them will only benefit your business.

Many of these women found ways to use their passion to drive their business. It may not be exactly what they thought it would be when they started out, but is it ever? Everyone has to start off small and rejection is part of the process. In fact, stories of rejection often serve as inspiration and encouragement to soon-to-be self starters.

Did you know J.K Rowling’s “Harry Potter” book was turned down TWELVE times? Seven books later with over 400 million copies sold, the Harry Potter brand is currently valued at over 15 billion. While you might not become a wizard-writing fantasy legend like J.K Rowling, you sure as heck can be successful. So go for it, and chase your dreams.

If you want to support women-owned businesses, start by scrolling through Facebook or doing some research to find women-owned businesses in your community. Then, support by buying or helping to promote their products. Small businesses, especially women-owned, black women-owned, and women of color-owned, are disproportionally affected by the current economic crisis ignited by a health pandemic. So if you can, shop small and support local. And remember, there’s a girl (or more) doing a happy dance when you checkout!

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