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In our last post, Back to School with SFA, we noted that tens of thousands of students are making their annual pilgrimage back to college towns. As they return, students living in areas where cable or internet is not provided for free will seek access.

While many students will contact their local MSO for access, others will no doubt look for a way to preserve their party monies. Cable MSOs address this issue without having to hire extra personnel to check locations by using a cable specific CRM?

Confirming the Need for Tap Audits

The first step for successful Tap Audits (TA) is to identify locations that show the telling signs of possible illegal cable/internet service. Some of these signs are:

Signs that Cable/Internet is Being Received for Free

  1. Unlocked cable pedestals. Unlocked pedestals are an open invitation to remove terminators and traps. For example an Internet only customer can remove the trap and give themselves free cable TV.
  2. Unlocked or broken apartment cable access boxes. Same as above.
  3. Signal strength complaints in one area. This maybe too many people accessing the same feed or ingress caused by substandard connections.
  4. Multiple splitters on outside of home or apartment building. Visual inspection may show the cable going to another home or to another apartment.
  5. New cable loosely hung on outside of building. A quick records check can identify what work was done here.
  6. Cable going between floors on an apartment building or strung between houses.
  7. Recent cancellations. Any area that has had an unusual number of subscriber churn.
  8. Cable TV subscribers but not internet. College students cannot compete in the modern academic world or socialize without internet access.
  9. Unusually low penetration rate. A penetration rate of under 50% may be a trigger for tap audits.

The last item on the list is the newest and maybe the most telling. Students return to school armed with new age cell phones, IPods and notebooks that need internet access to stream videos, download music or perform research. Given the popularity of social networking sites such as Facebook, it is difficult to imagine any cluster of students without internet access.

Transforming TA Into Sales

One of the benefits of Cable specific Sales Force Automation (SFA) is that it enables DSRs to visit selected areas using a variety of qualifiers such as zip code or location or street and so on. TA features include the ability to use menu driven features to identify suspected illegal internet/cable, enter in the audit outcome such as disconnect, no sale, sold or follow-up. All information is transmitted back to sales management just like SFA.

The addition of TA functionality to SFA has several advantages for Cable MSOs such as:

  • Reduces the need for independent Tap Auditors. DSRs can do both functions and vice versa (TA can do SFA).
  • Increases the chances of making a sale if the DSR is performing the TA. This is because they can simply turn a negative into a positive and have the latest promotional pricing at their fingertips.
  • Reduces churn. Tap Audits are a great way to find out why customers are leaving.
  • Increases the chances of cross-selling or up-selling. Disconnect should be the last option, sometimes subscribers are not aware of the latest product offerings.
The Time is Now for TA

The time to conduct tap audits in college communities is now. Identifying subscriber issues now may discourage potential abuse later on when beer money run out. Make sure your DSRs are ready to make sales at every opportunity.