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Call Centers 2.0 is focused on business software solutions serving call centers and contact centers, including Help Desk applications, Customer Service Systems, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems and Social CRM systems. This website includes market research, expert insight, peer advice and independent business software reviews and comparisons.




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Comcast Customer Service

Too Little on Customer Service & Too Much on Customer Acquisitions

When it comes to writing about failures in customer service Comcast has become a go-to whipping boy. Now, every time I have to call them, I keep notes because I know the content will make for an interesting blog post and the chance to make a point or two about how to do service right or wrong.

I gave them a call after noticing that my monthly fees had increased by a few dollars for the second or third time in a year. This came with no notice, so I figured I'd do a little research to see what was going on. By the way, how many customers actually do this - versus simply accepting extra nickel and dime charges? Investigating these charges is a real time-waster, for sure, but do those who simply accept random and arbitrary rate changes grow in their affinity for their providers? I think not.

Calling into the customer service number is itself revealing. After the initial prompt about language, and a request for your phone number to pull up your account records, the first options you have to get past are all about how and where to pay your bill. I have no statistical evidence for my theory, but I suspect the vast majority of callers to the contact center are not calling about bill payment – they're calling about service issues. The powers that be, however, prioritize incoming revenue over anything else. Nice message they're sending - and a clear behavior of a business focused company and not a customer focused company.

I finally got to a call center representative and explained my issue. It took a while for her to understand my somewhat complex circumstances, as my local provider was acquired by Comcast a year ago, resulting in lots of less than optimal changes to my service, but she finally could explain what occurred.

She told me that I had been enrolled two discount programs, one for cable and one for my Internet service, ever since the acquisition, and that those programs were now complete. I'd been enrolled in these 'loyalty' programs without my knowledge, ostensibly to soften the transition from the local providers' fees to Comcast's higher fees. She told me she could enroll me in another loyalty program that would knock about $15 off my Internet bill for the next six months. Well, that was something.

I did wonder at the usefulness of a loyalty program that the customer is unaware of. It seems like in the case of my local provider, they were used as a bandage to smooth what was anticipated as a tough customer transition to higher fees, but when they expired the perception was that Comcast was arbitrarily jacking up rates without notifying the customer. That's probably not the aim, but it's the result, and it certainly doesn't encourage loyalty.

The customer service agent offered to transfer me to the loyalty program person; she pushed her button, I was told to wait, then was asked to enter my phone number again, then was re-routed back to the main menu. Okay, so much for talking to the loyalty program person. I went back through the menus – again, hearing how and where I could pay my bill – and tried to talk to a live person, only to have the call terminated. I called back, listened to how I could pay my bill, entered my phone number again, navigated through the menu and got to a customer service rep, then explained my situation again. Befuddled, he went through my record and informed me I had already been put into the loyalty program. So I ultimately had a positive result, but it took 18 minutes and involved service agents making guesses about what was going on with my account. Not a confidence builder.

It seems from an outsider's point of view, that there's so much complexity involved in Comcast's customer service organization that the company's having trouble comprehending it. And when that happens, the customer is certainly going to be baffled. And yet Comcast spends an enormous amount of money on customer acquisitions. Wouldn't it be better to spend a little of that money on re-engineering customer service in an effort to make the company a customer service-focused organization? Trying to win the service battle is a lot easier than trying to win the churn battle, and much cheaper.

Sadly, although Comcast is the poster child for poor customer service, it's endemic throughout the service industry. If your company is in these straits, ask yourself a blunt question. Is it more efficient to scare up new customers after existing ones have bailed because of a defective service experience, or to deliver good service that allows you to build a positive, transparent relationship with customers that maximizes the value of each customer?


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