Optimum Lightpath Aims to Make ‘Focus on the Customer’ More Than a Catchphrase

B. Washburn
B. Washburn

Summary Bullets:       

  • Focus on the customer/ is a catchphrase, but it’s exactly what Optimum Lightpath is doing in an effort to bump up sales and support.
  • Optimum Lightpath has been listening to customers all along, which inspired several of its more recent service launches.

Optimum Lightpath, the business services arm of Cablevision, has been through several major shifts in how the company does business.  The company first became prominent as a competitive access provider; then, it broke out into its next level of growth by betting early on Ethernet services.  In 2011-2012, Optimum Lightpath is again changing as a company – this time not on a product level but in terms of perspective, as it re-focuses sales and support efforts to get closer to its customers by helping clients address their challenges.  At an analyst breakfast held at this May’s Cable Show 2012 in Boston, MA, Optimum Lightpath executives discussed the state of the company, the success to date of its products, and its direction.

Obviously Optimum Lightpath is no stranger to being customer-focused.  For example, the company has long had a large customer advisory community.  The group consists of about 100 member businesses of various sizes, representing a range of vertical industries.  This sounding board has encouraged the company to add products for conferencing and collaboration (so companies could source all their voice and collaboration needs from one source), as well as vertically aligned ‘Service Suite’ product packages designed to suit the needs of government, education, and healthcare companies.

The refocusing effort is meant to draw Optimum Lightpath’s sales force back from a product-centric approach, instead engaging prospects by first understanding their business and how the service provider can help.  For an enterprise sales rep, understanding the customer’s needs before walking through the door is obvious, but it is a different way of thinking for a traditionally network-oriented direct sales force that goes down into mid-market accounts.

Optimum Lightpath has a large direct sales force: there are diminishing returns in having its sales reps try to win the same prospects over and over.  Now, the company is doing something different to grow to the next level, by understanding clients’ and prospects’ needs better before selling them on services, to help win resistant prospects and increase business with existing clients.  Similar to its sales review, the company has also reevaluated  the processes in how it engages its customers, delivers services, and provides ongoing support.  When it comes to looking for ways to build stronger client relationships, as long as its processes are efficient enough to keep its margins intact, a service provider can rarely go wrong.

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