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Emphasizing customer service paying off for local Dish retailer

August 31, 2003|JOHN T. DAVIS

Rob and Nicole Martin have emphasized customer service above all in the three years since they started Satellite Express, a local retailer for the Dish Network.

Earlier this month, their efforts paid off with an "outstanding performance" award from CVS Systems, a multistate distributor for Dish. Satellite Express was among only 20 of CVS' 1,500 retailers to win the award this year and the only retailer in Kentucky to win it.

Mike Carter, manager of the Indiana/Kentucky region for CVS, said the award is a "really big deal."

"They take really good care of their customers," Carter said. "Basically, it's based on sales. They are one of our top retailers.

"They are just super. We've been working with some retailers for 20 years. They've come along and done it in three years."

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The Martins built their business, which now has about 2,000 Dish Network customers, basically by selling the satellite TV service door-to-door.

"We got started at the right time really," Rob said. "We'd go out and do our own installation. She would go inside and work with the customer and I would do the outside work."

"We're so excited about getting that award," Nicole said. "We never dreamed that we could go this far this fast."

The couple, who enjoy the opportunity to work together, still make sales and installation calls door-to-door, and when a customer has a problem they take care of it. They give all new customers their home phone number in case of a problem.

"People can call me at home at 9 o'clock at night, but I only get about one call a week and that's with 2,000 customers," Rob said. "I usually can coach them through it."

The Martins said their philosophy of customer service is based on getting the satellite dishes installed properly in the first place. They said they don't give their contract installers more work to do in a day than they can handle properly.

"It should just work right and if it doesn't, you should be able to get it fixed," Rob said. "That's what we try to provide to our customers."

Most of the complaints, including weather-related problems, about satellite TV service are caused by poor installation, Rob said.

"When we show up at your home, we know what we're doing," he said. "If you don't do it right, you lose service. If you start getting a lot of cancellations, you can't afford to stay in business."

If the dish is properly grounded and tuned, it will get a stronger signal and will perform better under nearly all weather conditions, he said. A dish that's properly installed should only lose service in a torrential downpour, the Martins said.

Another part of their customer service philosophy is follow-up. Each new customer is called once a month for the first 12 months of service. "Most people have questions but won't sit down and look up a number to call," Rob said. "We make sure everything is working."

Both the Martins and Carter of CVS Systems praised general manager Jeanette Baker for her efforts in making those follow-up calls and keeping Satellite Express on an even keel. A professor at Danville School of Nursing for 30 years, Baker came out of retirement in January to work with the Martins. "Jeanette really has things under control," Carter said.

Winning the customer service award "has taken commitment and dedication from all of us at Satellite Express and Dish Network," Nicole said. "We'd like to thank all of our customers who didn't shut the door and the ones that picked up the phone to call Satellite Express.

"But we owe a special thanks to Jeanette. She is not only the firecracker but the fireworks."

Nicole also praised Rob's grandmother, Irene Martin, who recently retired from a local optometrist's office and helps out at Satellite Express as well as helping take care of the Martins' 6-year-old daughter.

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