We wrote in this space recently about Comcast’s much-publicized effort to halve its customer-service installation time window from four hours to two.

It didn’t take long for that to get trumped.

Time Warner Cable’s president, Rob Marcus, told reporters in a earnings report conference call last week that TWC, the second-largest cable provider in the country, has started “experimenting” with setting up exact, specific service call windows for customers in some cities. Elsewhere, he said, the two-hour window has become nearly ubiquitous, and one-hour windows are on the rise.

“Improving the convenience of installation and service is another critical item to customer satisfaction,” Marcus said. “We’ve gone to two-hour service call windows almost everywhere, and we’ve now got one-hour windows and weekend appointments in some markets and we’re even experimenting with specific times for service appointments in several cities… The bottom line on customer service, we’re making progress. There’s still much work to do, but I think we’re focused on the right drivers.”

Time Warner’s exact-time appointment window program isn’t exactly new, actually. The “white glove” service program has been included for customers that sign up for the “signature home”-level service (a.k.a. The Works), which costs a cool $190 a month. So we’ll see what this announcement does for the company’s lackluster customer-service image.

Comcast, too, has already tried topping itself. In certain markets — Boston being one — Comcast is already moving toward a one-hour service window.

Chalk all this up to increased competition in the pay-TV space. Between Comcast, Time Warner, AT&T, Verizon, Charter, CableVision, and a host of smaller cable providers — plus satellite TV providers Dish and DirecTV — just about everyone has several choices. More and more, we’re seeing customer service be considered a distinguishing feature for the best companies — and this is a good thing. We’ll certainly keep our eye on how this service-window development shakes out.

ABOUT Ian Stewart

Avatar photoIan is a veteran journalist who has covered sports for various news outlets. Previously, he was managing editor for an electronic-book publishing company and a public relations writer.