DirecTV’s CEO becomes an Undercover Boss

Every CEO should periodically go undercover.

DirecTV’s CEO in two roles
photos: CBS

Last week I watched a 2 year old re-run of Undercover Boss. It followed 58 year old Mike White, DirecTV’s new CEO as he posed as a trainee at several sites within DirecTV’s 23,000 employee organization. Mike learned how to crawl through attics and perform field service, materials warehousing, new customer installs, and customer call handling.

My impressions:

  • DirecTV has taken a technology that was exotic, expensive, and demanded the attention of highly-skilled engineers, and turned it into a profitable, affordable commodity. I’m impressed. (Their fleet of geostationary satellites orbit 22,000 miles from the Earth, yet most customers’ dishes are tiny.)
  • Their front-line personnel are conscientious.
  • Something’s wrong with their technician support helpline: an installer waited on hold for 21 minutes while she, the customer, and Mike waited for someone at DirecTV to answer the phone.
  • Something’s wrong with their materials logistics: A field service technician wasted time at a customer’s site trying to locate a working receiver to replace the customer’s failed receiver.
  • The frontline employees work harder than the company’s officers. Management needs to provide prompt support to their field technicians.

CBS-TV’s promotion of this episode.

I hope that after his week undercover, Mr. White shook up his management team.

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© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

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