Behind The Veil Part 2: Let's All Look At Comcast's Customer Retention Playbook For Its Employees!

from the always-be-closing dept

Following one Comcast customer-retention rep’s brave attempt to set the record for the most annoying cancellation call, The Verge put out a call for past and current Comcast employees to weigh in on just how rare or frowned-upon this sort of thing is. As the initial submissions noted, this sort of thing isn’t so much frowned-upon as it is, oh, let’s call it super-actively encouraged. So much so, in fact, that the latest confession dump on The Verge includes Comcast’s employee handbook for customer retention reps, and it’s exactly as infuriating as you think it is.

A current employee at Comcast who participated in the Comcast Confessions series provided The Verge with a copy of the 20-page guidelines the company uses for evaluating retention specialists. The guidelines are divided into 13 sections:

1. Greet customer clearly
2. Clarify reason for call
3. Relate and empathize
4. Take control
5. Set the agenda
6. Ask targeted questions
7. Consider unstated needs / active listening
8. Take ownership / make offer
9. Overcome objections
10. Close the save
11. Confirm details
12. End on a positive note
13. Documentation

It has all the hallmarks of a playbook designed to piss off and annoy someone who wants to cancel service. Legislated courtesy followed by manufactured empathy that devolves into the assertion of the rep’s dominance on the call, all leading to a close of the “save.” If you’re not in some kind of sales role, this list probably doesn’t look familiar to you. I’ve been in sales all of my life, however, and this is the kind of playbook you get in a sales role at a faceless mega-corporation. Trust me, it’s as frustrating for the sales person as it is for the customer. But you know what this isn’t? Customer service for someone looking to cancel their damned account.

But the handbook does offer indirect advice on how to get past these Comcast retention people in the form of what “objections” cannot be resolved with some contrived buddy-talk and a “special” offer.

Save Attempt is Not Applicable in the Following Scenarios

-Customer is moving in with an existing Comcast customer (CAE must verify Comcast services active at new address)
-Customer is moving to a non-Comcast area (CAE must verify by looking up zip code)
-Account holder is deceased / incapacitated
-Temporary / seasonal disconnect and Seasonal Suspend Plan is not available in their area
-Natural disaster
-Customer doesn’t know what address they’re moving to

So, if you’re a Comcast customer looking to cancel your service, your playbook is quite clear. Once you are transferred to customer retention, you say the following: “I am cancelling my service because my home was hit by a tornado, flinging me out of the window and into an unknown address that I’ll be sharing with someone who already has Comcast service. Also I’m dead.”

Happy cancelling, folks!

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Companies: comcast

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Comments on “Behind The Veil Part 2: Let's All Look At Comcast's Customer Retention Playbook For Its Employees!”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

You can always cancel. The trick is to treat the person on the other end of the line like a 3 year old.

My favorite answer to why I want to cancel is “because I said so.”

If that fails, I usually follow up by telling them that they personally offend me and smell bad. I’ve never had to go beyond that.

I read somewhere about someone that just says, “God told me to save the money and use it to buy ammunition.” Apparently, that never fails.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Response to: GMacGuffin on Aug 6th, 2014 @ 1:13pm

Answer: (translated into plain English) No, because that’s not one of the ‘skip Save attempt, go directly to disconnect’ options listed. The agent gets graded down, or written up, if he/she does that.
Save time for both of you, look up a zip code they don’t service, and tell them you’re moving.

Arthur Moore (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The issue is with Equifax and other “Credit Reporting” companies, along with collections companies. If you don’t care about being harassed, or a bad credit score then you can just disconnect your TVs and stop paying.

Credit Scores are a banking regulation issue, so good luck getting that fixed. There are several ways of dealing with harassment. Some legal, and some very satisfying.

Anonymous Coward says:

… TEMPORARILY flinging me out of the window and into an unknown address that I’ll be sharing with someone who already has Comcast service IN A NON-COMCAST AREA….

Not with Comcast, but I have had the experience with other large corporations where simply saying I didn’t want something any more was not good enough. I would love to tell them all that I’m dead, but I always figured they’d want proof.

Anonymous Coward says:

it’s not just Comcast that uses this ‘playbook’, Bell is the same, well, in Canada at least. after trying to get some sense out of the ‘customer services’ person (i use the term VERY loosely!), then being passed on to someone else, then someone else and being told that there would be no renewal of router unless there was an upgrade of service (this one was 8 years old and the customer was being charged $5can a month for the use), a person from the ‘loyalty dept’ came on the phone. that was a complete waste of time, just as were the previous people. the following day, Bell cancellation dept was contacted and the contract cancelled. then came the offers! however, the Bell person was told in no uncertain terms that they had had their chance and weren’t interested, so no, no offer would be good enough. just for good measure, the internet chats were downloaded and the calls recorded! hoping all turns out ok in the long run!

Baron von Robber says:

1. Greet customer clearly
“What? I can’t hear you…can you hear me now?”

2. Clarify reason for call
“Because. Because.” x infinity

3. Relate and empathize
“You don’t understand, the dog & the CIA tortured me “

4. Take control
“Get out of my mind!!”

5. Set the agenda
“Hang on, what was that middle part again?”

6. Ask targeted questions
“I’ll have to ask my hamster that question.”

7. Consider unstated needs / active listening
“Oh freddled gruntbuggly,
Thy micturations are to me
As plurdled gabbleblotchits on a lurgid bee.”

8. Take ownership / make offer
“I’ll take 1000 shares in Comcast”

9. Overcome objections

10. Close the save
“Do I get a pony with this?”

11. Confirm details
“1000 shares and a pony”

12. End on a positive note
“I’ll never hear you voice again?”

13. Documentation
“No need, I recorded it too.”

TKnarr (profile) says:

Stop them at #3

The trick is to be simple at step 2: “I need to cancel my service.”. Then don’t let them get to step 4. If they try, just keep repeating “I need to cancel my service.”. After a couple of repeats, get their name if you haven’t already and proceed to “Look, I am cancelling my service, effective as of such-and-such date. If you aren’t willing to assist me in this, consider this notification of cancellation. I’ll follow up with a registered letter to your office confirming the cancellation. Any service after that date will be unauthorized and I will not be responsible for any charges you might incur because of failure to cancel my service.” and hang up. Note the date and time and who you spoke to, and send that letter return receipt requested so you have a record of when you sent it and when they got it.

If possible, record your entire call with the CS rep including the automated message when you call them. I figure you don’t need to mention it, they already stated that the call may be recorded so they can’t be unaware that the call may be recorded.

Anon says:


“-Customer doesn’t know what address they’re moving to”

Tell them “Sorry, but the sheriff is hauling my stuff out tomorrow for the bank that’s foreclosing, I don’t know where I’m going to be living until bankruptcy court has finished with me. I can tell you my bankruptcy attorney’s mailing address if you want.”

me says:

Re: Re: Dead

But if you’re paying by credity card, not that you should, you could just simply kill the transanction from that end, and send a notice of cancellation.

“Account is cancelled because of failure to address service concerns, billing will no longer be honored.”

To the dead in 3 days, deal. “Hi I’m already dead. I am actually a zombie at this point so all business dealings will have to go through my estate. Who does thats? I’m a freakin zombie, how the hell do I know?”

angry webmaster (profile) says:

So that explains it!

A few years ago, my parents were moving into a retirement home and I arranged to have internet and cable TV installed. a few days before they were scheduled to move, my father passed away.

I called up to cancel the order and didn’t get any garbage from them.

The few times I call support it’s to get a new modem provisioned. (I buy my own and won’t have their junk in my house)

I use DirecTV for my television. Much better service. The only time I have an issue is when there is really heavy weather.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: So that explains it!

“The few times I call support it’s to get a new modem provisioned. (I buy my own and won’t have their junk in my house)”

This is wise, especially where the wireless router is concerned. Comcast’s routers (that they rent) have software on them for surveillance, so they can monitor what’s going on in the internal network. A quick peek at the settings when you log into one confirms this with a list of ‘learned’ devices, which is completely unnecessary and serves absolutely no purpose for routing.

Anonymous Coward says:

“Save Attempt is Not Applicable in the Following Scenarios”

– Customer has already installed alternative provider

Since I sometimes work from home, whenever I’ve switched I’ve always ensured a period of overlap so I’m not left unconnected in the case of problems on the install. I’ve never had a problem cancelling when I tell the first company that I’ve already stopped using their service because I have already installed an alternative (I expect they can verify realtime that their modem is off so I would never use this reason if it wasn’t true). This usually gets the ‘expedited cancel’ so that the rep can move on to trying to retain the next caller in order to keep their stats up.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: they give grief even when the account holder is deaf

At that point just counter-offer with ‘Or I could go to the press with the fact that you’re demanding to see a death certificate before you’ll consider allowing me to cancel my service. I’m sure they’d love to cover a story like that, though I don’t imagine your boss would care for it as much. Your call.’

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