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ViaSat Discovers Value in Customer Feedback

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October 25, 2012

ViaSat Discovers Value in Customer Feedback

By Steve Anderson, Contributing TMCnet Writer

Businesses live and die on the strength of their customers. Customers generate cash flow, which in turn keeps any business active and thriving. Companies like ViaSat (News - Alert), meanwhile, are discovering the value in listening to the customer base and providing the experience that they desire in terms of reducing turnaround and maintaining cash flow at ideal levels.

ViaSat especially had a problem in this sense. As a provider of mainly satellite and digital communications, they had some serious problems gathering customer feedback. The market for satellite communications is comparatively much smaller against the equivalent markets found in terrestrial versions like cable or DSL.

Worse still, the satellite market is inherently poisoned against its providers, as users are quite aware –painfully so, in many cases – that they’re dealing with the provider of last resort.

Indeed, until just a few years ago, ViaSat didn't maintain much more than general customer satisfaction feedback, lacking even information about churn rates and their attendant causes, or even analysis of the customer experience that might have led to better service. Thus, ViaSat got together with CFI Group, who in turn helped ViaSat develop achieve a set of customer satisfaction metrics that ViaSat could use to determine where changes were needed the most, wherever possible.

This measure has given ViaSat plenty of insight in terms of what it should be doing, and what it should not.

For instance, ViaSat learned about the need to improve network speed and reliability, which got measures up and improved overall network performance by 81 percent over original numbers. Churn rates lessened as customers got at least some of their problems settled and billing services were improved.

Overall, customer satisfaction for the satellite industry is low, often down in the 40s, but scores for ViaSat are much better, up in the 60s.

That's still super low, of course, especially compared to terrestrial offerings. The nature of the service forbids many solutions from even being discussed; users will always have high latencies and weather-based service outages, and providing more bandwidth to raise bandwidth caps requires additional satellites to be installed – an expensive proposition by any name.

But ViaSat has shown quite clearly the value of paying attention to its customers and providing what improvements it can as it can, and making the best of a bad situation. Yes, customers are often well-acquainted with the flaws of satellite communications, and are often aware that they have little choice in the market. But ViaSat is clearly doing what it can to improve its situation and keep its users around – at least until a terrestrial provider shows up.

Edited by Braden Becker

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