Brightspeed CMO talks navigating customer complaints in early days

Brightspeed acquired plenty of CenturyLink customers when it closed on the purchase of Lumen’s ILEC assets in 20 states last month. But winning those subscribers over is proving to be a challenge, though it’s one Brightspeed CMO Courtland Madock said the company is more than willing to accept.

Over the past few weeks, customers have taken to social media to complain about the company. A quick search on Twitter, for instance, surfaces gripes about everything from spotty internet during a rainstorm to technicians who failed to keep installation appointments. Madock declined to speak to specific complaints, but said the operator is keenly aware of “varied” customer reactions to the brand’s launch.

While Brightspeed sought to set “realistic” expectations for its debut, she suggested the network-oriented complaints might be related to consumer confusion over what the changeover from Lumen's CenturyLink brand to the Brightspeed name entailed. The operator is planning to deploy fiber to more than 1 million locations by the end of 2023 and ultimately reach about half of the households in its footprint with fiber over the next five years. But vast majority of the footprint it acquired is still served by copper.

“We have the same infrastructure in place that we had on day one and that has not changed,” she said. “Nothing is a quick fix in telecom.”

Madock added Brightspeed is still in the process of assessing plant conditions across the network to better understand where it needs – and can – make improvements. As comments from customers come in, the operator is running root cause analyses to aid its evaluation. So, she said, it actually wants to hear from customers.

It is also working to improve its customer service experience, Madock said. She reiterated the company immediately added 35% more customer service agents, a change which Madock said has helped Brightspeed answer customer calls two times faster. Madock noted it has also seen a drop in the number of regulatory complaints against the company, though cautioned that it is too early to say whether that’s a solid trend.

Additionally, Brightspeed is hiring to increase its roster of field technicians by 10% to help it more reliably keep appointments with customers. It’s about halfway to its goal, Madock said.

While fiber is its headline ambition, Madock said Brightspeed knows it needs to stabilize existing services as it builds the new PON network. As it progresses, it will “aggressively monitor the customer experience” she said.

“As somebody in marketing and sales, I don’t expect my consumers to understand how our business works. I just expect them to want a really great product and expect that I’m going to deliver it,” Madock concluded. “We’re making sure that we’re sharing with them that it’s an evolution, it’s going to take time, but that we’re here to listen, that we want their feedback and we’re going to make it as easy as possible for them to contact us to get us the information we need so we can help to serve them better.”