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Time Warner Cable looks to Apple to improve its terrible reputation

Published Mar 19th, 2014 8:45PM EDT
Time Warner Cable Retail Store

Time Warner Cable doesn’t exactly have the best reputation. Its customer satisfaction is incredibly low, ranking second to last behind only Comcast in a survey taken last year. Its customer service is routinely criticized and it tied with AT&T for the worst customer service in another survey earlier this year. Its proposed merger is incredibly unpopular, with only 6% of consumers approving of the deal. This bad reputation is beginning to hurt TWC, too, as it lost 825,000 pay TV subscribers last year.

To improve its image, Time Warner is taking a page from Apple’s playbook and has been renovating its retail stores.

According to Market Watch, Comcast’s flagship Manhattan store now has wood floors and quartz countertops. Large tables allow customers to play with product demos. There is also an area for customers to customize what kind of cable, Internet and phone services they want. Employees are now allowed to roam about the store to help customers, instead of being tied to specific desks. There are even classes that customers can take to learn more about Time Warner’s products.

“This channel needs to be awakened,” said Blaine Altaffer, Time Warner’s retail VP. “I don’t want it to be a DMV experience. We realized customers need hands-on experience. It’s built for them on their terms.”

So far, Time Warner claims its new approach is working. In fact, according to Blaine Altaffer, the renovated flagship store is exceeding the company’s expectations. Average wait times have dropped from 20 minutes to 4 minutes, and Altaffer says the store is seeing more traffic and selling more devices.

Time Warner is now planning to roll out these renovations to more of its stores.

“Retail is our primary sales channel,” Altaffer said. “There are people who come in and we were not giving them a shot. We are trying to touch everything we can. This is a whole new muscle we are building.”