Q&A with Phil Brenner of Time Warner Cable's PerkZone Community

Would you like a peek behind the scenes at how to launch a customer engagement program at one of America's largest cable companies? 

 

This week, I'm happy to share some key insights from Phil Brenner, Director, Customer Experience at Time Warner Cable Business Class. He has recently overseen the deployment of a community, called PerkZone, that will serve as a resource and relationship hub for TWC's business class customers.

 Phil Brenner TWC 06-13 Cropped

 

1. What prompted the creation of the new PerkZone for your Business Class customers?

 

We wanted a way to engage with customers that extends beyond the value they get from the products and services we provide.  As we developed the program, we called it a “loyalty” program but it’s really a relationship program.  Instead of rewards for spending more with us, PerkZone is about helping our customers succeed. 

 

We do that in two ways.  First, PerkZone includes a component, called Discounts and Deals, that provides our customers access to offers from leading providers ofoffice supplies, computers, printing, marketing services and more.  Time Warner Cable does not receive any revenue from that, instead, we leverage the collective buying potential of our more than half-million business customers to get companies to participate and make valuable offers.  The second component of PerkZone is called Ideas and Community.   Here we share a mixture of original stories and curated content from other sources, all focused on how businesses, especially small businesses, can use technology to thrive. 

 

In addition, as the program grows, our customers will be able to engage with each other…ask questions, solve problems, post comments and in the future make their own offers to each other.  The Time Warner Cable mission statement says that we will “connect people and businesses  with information, entertainment and each other.”  PerkZone does that on all levels.


2. This project required a lot of internal coordination and communication across an agency (Renegade), multiple vendors (PerkHub and Social Strata), and a large organization (Time Warner Cable). Do you have any lessons-learned to share?

 

We put together a large-cross functional team from the start.  That included external business partners, such as Social Strata, as well as representatives from key internal stakeholders such as marketing, customer care, and IT.  We outlined a project plan and set up a weekly call where everyone could assemble to talk about key activities, and obstacles, as we developed the program.  We relied on each person or group to bring their expertise to the table so that the team was stronger than the individual contributors.

 

3. Which department “owns” the PerkZone? Is it marketing, customer service, sales, or a combination?

 

Well, PerkZone is about the customer relationship and we ALL own that.  However, the day-to-day management of PerkZone falls to the customer experience team within marketing.  We still get help, though, from others.  For example, our marketing agency helps identify content for the Ideas and Community site.  We also have a cross functional “editorial board” that reviews possible articles before they get published.  We made PerkZone part of our My Account portal…a key strategy to add value to My Account…so the My Account team and our IT department are key players in making the program a success.

 

4. What was your time-to-deployment, from concept to launch?

 

We had a head start in that we had already done our homework late in 2013 on business partners and platforms that could support what we wanted to do.  Our first cross-functional team meeting was held on February 20, and the site went live on May 12.  I think that may be a world speed record for Time Warner Cable.   I couldn’t be more proud of the effort the team, including our business partners, put in to make that happen. 

 

For example on Friday afternoon May 9 we had a readiness meeting with IT and Social Strata to ensure we could launch on Monday.  We identified some work that needed to happen before launch, Social Strata did the work over the weekend, Time Warner Cable employees tested the result and Monday morning we had a final go/no-go meeting and launched the site later that day.


5. Do you have any success metrics in place for this project?

 

Certainly.  Right now we are tracking standard metrics such as unique visitors, page views and the like.  However, we believe that PerkZone can have a positive impact on the customer experience and hope to demonstrate that PerkZone users have lower churn, higher satisfaction and higher Net Promoter Scores than non-users.

 

6. How have you promoted the new PerkZone community to your customer base? Are you taking a phased approach?

 

Marketing efforts are just now beginning to ramp up.  The go-live date of the site, May 12, was picked to coincide with the SBA’s National Small Business Week.  Time Warner Cable had a number of initiatives tied to that event, including PerkZone.  We issued a press release and got the word out on all the social media venues.  We were very gratified with the press pick up we had and in addition to the usual trade press we have had interest from and conducted briefings with industry analysts such as Gartner, Forrester and IDC.  We have added banners on our public web site and pop up screens when you log into My Account.  Later in June, we’ll implement bill inserts, email marketing, new on-hold messages, and other tactics to promote PerkZone.

 

7. What has most surprised you during the development and creation of the PerkZone community?

 

We wanted to implement PerkZone as a single-sign-on experience…so that when customers logged into My Account we would automatically authenticate them into the PerkZone platforms.  Normally that type of IT integration can be very daunting, with the need to protect customer information and comply with regulatory requirements in the telecommunications industry.  My biggest fear was that the integration would take months, not weeks.  When we made the decision to try to launch in conjunction with National Small Business Week, I knew we had our work cut out for us.  However, both our internal IT team and our external business partners stepped up to the challenge.  Everyone that worked on the launch of PerkZone really showed us what can be done when a team comes together and focuses on achieving a goal.

 

We were so happy to be part of that team; thank you for talking with us Phil!

 

Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) is among the largest providers of video, high‐speed data and voice services in the United States, connecting more than 15 million customers to entertainment, information and each other. Time Warner Cable Business Class offers data, video and voice services to businesses of all sizes, cell tower backhaul services to wireless carriers and, through its NaviSite subsidiary, managed and outsourced information technology solutions and cloud services. 

 

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