Remember the Comcast customer service fiasco last summer? One of the cable company's service agents apparently crossed the line of acceptable retention efforts, hassling a former Engadget editor, Ryan Block, who wanted to cancel his service. Block exposed the experience, giving Comcast a black eye.
Almost a year later, the company is still trying to make up for the incident and other customer service woes. For example, in November, the company launched an app to track the cable guy so customers would not have to get frustrated waiting and wondering when he’ll finally show up.
Comcast’s latest initiative is a multi-year plan to “reinvent” the customer experience and to “create a culture focused on exceeding customers’ expectations.” At the core of the plan is a commitment to look at every decision through customer-colored glasses and make measureable improvements.
Comcast Will Pay You for Being Late
The plan will create over 5,500 new customer service jobs in the years ahead and it will set an always-on-time goal for customer appointments by the third quarter of 2015. Comcast also promised to make technology and training investments, simplify billing and create better policies to drive more consistency. The last leg on the stool is bricks-and-mortar store renovations.
"This transformation is about shifting our mindset to be completely focused on the customer. It’s about respecting their time, being more proactive, doing what’s right, and never being satisfied with good enough," said Neil Smit, president and CEO of Comcast Cable (pictured above). "We’re on a mission and everyone is committed to making this happen."
Of course, those are tall promises against a big mission. One of the aspects that’s driving headlines in the technology news world is the promise that Comcast will automatically credit customers $20 if the cable guy does not arrive on time for an appointment.
Comcast’s Growing Competition
“Comcast has grown over the last decade or longer, but they have one serious problem. They stink at customer service,” independent technology analyst Jeff Kagan told us. “Their customers know it and they hate it. You can laugh at the many, real stories of customer service failure, or you may simply be able to think of your own experiences.”
Kagan isn’t letting up on Comcast. He said that the company has the unwanted honor of being among the worst companies in terms of customer service and customer care. That didn’t matter so much in years past because Comcast didn’t have lot of competition in the markets it served. Customers either chose the cable TV company servicing the area, or opted for a more expensive satellite TV service.
“Competition is getting hotter every year. Today customers have more choices than ever, and over the next several years those choices will continue to grow,” Kagan said. “Competitors like AT&T U-verse, Verizon FiOS and CenturyLink Prism are taking share from the cable television industry. They offer advanced services over the IPTV network meaning the Internet versus the cable television network.”
Comcast Didn’t See It Coming?
Beyond the carrier’s new competitors are also emerging online services, like Netflix, Amazon.com and Hulu. The competition is so attractive that customers are cutting the cords, just like analysts predicted they would years ago, for lower-cost, on-demand programming.
“If cable TV thought this would eventually happen, they would have worked on improving their poor customer experience a long time ago rather than waiting until the competitors are eating them alive,” Kagan said. “Comcast faces a very new and very different marketplace. If they want to continue to grow, they must improve customer care. As a Comcast customer, I have also experienced these customer care problems. Let's hope Comcast can solve this problem so they can continue to grow going forward.”