Illusion Series – Episode V: Yes, I See What You are Saying

We all have heard about Tesla’s real-time condition monitoring on key vehicle systems. This allows Tesla to provide automatic software updates remotely as well as detect, suggest and schedule service visits preemptively. For many of us, this is nothing too exciting anymore, as the automotive industry has talked about this for over a decade.


Tesla - the leader in proactive customer service outreach
Tesla – the leader in proactive customer service outreach

However, Tesla’s leaps around data connectivity, collection, transformation, analysis and process integration cannot be underestimated. I sometimes wish that sectors with an even longer history of remote monitoring capabilities of digital signals – the cable industry – would take something from this playbook.

Its short coming is not so much the lack of all the areas above, although past mergers and their heterogeneous legacy infrastructure are quite a challenge to this day, it is mostly around supporting policies.

Why do I have to call so many times to inform them about video-audio sync problems, pixelated screens, non-reacting navigation menus, etc. only to hear tech support respond with, “Let me send you a signal”. From what I can tell – and I am not a cable tech – this signal reboots my set top box remotely, something I can do, and have done already. Why do they always look so surprised about their service quality in my house? “Yes, I see what you are saying”, does not cut it anymore.

The next costly solution approach is to swap out hardware; the modem and/or the set-top boxes without any remote inkling about the root cause. Are they telling me they are plugged into a real-time, bidirectional data stream with my house but have no fault message information if I don’t tell them the error code on my screen?

Is there a technical, legal or commercial reason operators do not reach out to customers with service quality issues or even worse, repeat calls around technical issues? Why is the data analysis – assuming there is one – not suggesting the right mitigation steps? Why is the data not triggering client outreach proactively? This is a highly publicized, brand-new device with widely touted, cutting-edge capabilities. Apparently, all these new features are customer facing but I have yet to experience the effect of the operator-internal data consumption.

Is all this wealth of data being put to good use? I don’t know but I can only judge from the fact that a cheaper, more “powerful” offering, which was highly subsidized to win me way from their competition, resulted in close to ten 30+ minute calls, no less than four 1-hour minimum tech visits and two new pieces of hardware. Only the last visit seemed to have found the root cause.

This is not Tesla-like fault detection, analysis and resulting pre-emptive customer experience management. This is patching holes in a leaking dingy.

When my prior operator called me a month after I switched – incidentally my prior complaints about pricing did not trigger any proactive churn-risk flagging there either – they warned me about this new service. They indicated that other customers have come back because of the service quality. I did not want to believe them and relegated their comments to fear mongering with a chuckle.

I am not chuckling anymore. I only know that the slim (if any) profit the new operator was expecting from me just became a negative margin given the activation experience above. Whatever happened to “doing it right the first time” and “fix it when the signal is on yellow, not red”? It is time for organizations swimming in real-time business monitoring data to adopt the Tesla customer experience model, similar to when the auto industry took on the Toyota TQM model.


Yes, it's a car but what good is it if it cannot move?
Yes, it’s a car but what good is it if it cannot move?

Data without purpose is like a car without tires and HBR agrees. There is a reason why PWC’s 2011 study “Hidden Treasure”, stipulates that only 12.5% of companies fixing their data issues achieved their target savings and 45% achieved them somewhat

Share some stories with me from other industries, which are drowning in real-time data but do very little with it to fix the customer experience.



Previous episodes:

Episode I

Episode II

Episode III

Episode IV