Behind The Veil Part 5: Comcast Metrics For All Employees As Simple As ABC, Always Be Closing

from the anybody-but-comcast dept

In the ongoing fallout Comcast is facing due to the high-pressure sales tactics of their non-sales employees, the company has consistently indicated that these employees are not behaving in a manner consistent with the company’s wishes. The common thread in most of these stories consists of customer service duties being handled by customer retention reps as often as not and complaints or attempts to cancel service being met with sales pitches instead of service. Comcast has specifically indicated that these examples are outside of the way they train employees to conduct their business.

Comcast, as it turns out, is completely full of shit. The latest reveal via past and current Comcast employees spilling their guts to The Verge is all about employee metrics. And it seems that Comcast sees everyone as part of the sales team.

Guidelines for repair reps, which show how a trouble call can be segued into a sales call, are part of S4, Comcast’s “universal call flow.” S4 is an evaluative measurement to ensure that all agents “give every customer a great call experience every time.” It stands for: start, solve, sell, summarize. Part S3, or “sell,” includes four parts: “transition to relevant offer,” “present offer,” “overcome objections,” and “proactively close sale.”

That’s not even a retention rep being trained in that document; it’s a repair tech. Because, hey, the thing I most want when Comcast’s service is failing is the person fixing it to sell me more of that failing service. This is the kind of pressure tactics that lead repair calls down the dark path to an angry customer who likely subsequently finds out that Comcast has a monopoly on service in their area. Where are my free-market conservative friends on this stuff? This is supposed to be in your wheelhouse!

It doesn’t get any better for customer service reps.

Similarly, a scorecard for customer service reps in the Pennsylvania area shows that sales are explicitly worth 18 percent of an agent’s performance. Sales are measured again in the general customer service “Pinnacle” metric, which is worth 27 percent. An excerpt from the Pinnacle guidelines says “Sales/Conversion” is one of eight categories measured in an employee’s interaction with a customer.

A fifth of a customer service reps performance is judged on their salesmanship. Let that sink in for a moment and then remind yourself of this fact the next time you call for a complaint or help with your service. That person you’re speaking to is being judged on whether they can sell you on something when they’re supposed to be helping you.

You can see the full dump of the metrics documents here, but don’t eat much before you go looking. You may not be able to keep your meal down.

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Companies: comcast

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Comments on “Behind The Veil Part 5: Comcast Metrics For All Employees As Simple As ABC, Always Be Closing”

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Vel the Enigmatic says:

Well now...

Guess Comcast likes the mantra “You can never have enough people in sales” and what better way than to make everyone on the team a salesman instead of having them focus on doing their job and doing it right? Who needs a good service, right, it’s not like you’re supposed to be obligated to the people who are the reason you employees even have a paycheck, like say, your customers?

No, no no no, surely that’s not the way to go. Try to sell to everyone at every opportunity whether they want it or not, shoving sales pitches in peoples faces instead of giving good service, that will definitely get you more money…our of your own ass that is.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Comcast is a bunch of scheming liars??

Say it ain’t so!

Oh, here’s another lie right out of their handbook:

S4 is an evaluative measurement to ensure that all agents “give every customer a great call experience every time.”

I guess that in Comcast’s world, badgering customers who want to leave their service counts as a “great call experience”.

David says:


The obvious grass-roots crowd-source response is to allow the rep to go through their entire sales pitch. Allow the rep to use as much time as they want to try to sell you something, and always hesitantly refuse. Make it a new game where you try to see how long you get a service rep to spend in ‘salesman’ mode. Post video for entertainment purposes.

Throw off everyones metrics, and Comcast will have to do something different.

Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

Re: Counter-tactic

This would be great, if your time is worth nothing and you have nothing pressing to take care of at the moment. Point #1 can be assumed false unless proven otherwise, and point #2 is almost certainly false as well, by virtue of the simple fact that you are on the phone with customer service. You don’t do that when nothing’s going wrong.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Counter-tactic

Actually, it sounds like a job for Asterisk. Create a bunch of scripts that will dial in over VoIP and engage their systems. Some to sales, inquiring about new ways to buy their services, some to support, asking why you can’t switch to a competitor. All of them disconnect after the initial recorded spiel from your end, resulting in a lost call. For extra fun, add in sounds in the background that make it appear that the call got cut off (no hangup) so that you can continue the call with the same number later.

No, don’t do this. Just call them about actual issues, an dmaybe post it to a blog.

Cable Grunt says:

The Veil of Lies

I’m glad to see this crap finally being exposed and discussed. I work technical support for one of Comcast’s “sister” cable companies. (Management says they consider all cable companies to be “sisters”.) The company I work is as bad if not worse than Comcast. In fact, we even have some customer service managers working for us that were finally fired by Comcast, only to then be picked up at the company I work for. Yay.

When I was hired by the company, I was explicitly told that it was not a sales position and that there no sales requirements. After quitting my previous job and starting my new one I found out they lied: If I wanted to keep my new job I’d better meet sales goals. And we are told to tell certain lies in order to make sales as well. The justification from management? “Well, we have to compete with the satellite companies.” But then, the management there is populated with the kind of people who will stand there, lie to your face telling such whoppers that they are bound to know that you know that they are lying, and not bat an eye. This is at a company whose official written “corporate values” put honesty at the top of the list. Of course, that document itself is just another big lie. I mean, you wouldn’t expect a bunch of liars to go around proclaiming that they’re liars would you? No, they’re going to claim just the opposite.

You’ll have to forgive me for not naming the company, but they have a whole team whose job it is to detect, identify and fire anyone suspected of any kind of whistle blowing (even though they already have close to, if not over, a 100% annual turnover in my department).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: The Veil of Lies

This is at a company whose official written “corporate values” put honesty at the top of the list. Of course, that document itself is just another big lie. I mean, you wouldn’t expect a bunch of liars to go around proclaiming that they’re liars would you? No, they’re going to claim just the opposite.

It is my experience that the more a person insists that they are honest, the more likely the opposite is to be true. An honest person lets their honesty speak for itself.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: The Veil of Lies

“Why do you continue to work for them? I’d have quit as soon as I found out they lied to me.”

It must be nice to have options like that. But some people have to work for a living and jobs aren’t always easy to find. So, are you offering him a job or just popping off?

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: The Veil of Lies

You seem to be assuming that I don’t have to work for a living and that I’ve never been in a situation where jobs are difficult to find. I assure you that you’re very, very wrong. I have quit jobs for stuff like that despite needing the paycheck and the scarcity of jobs.

In fact, the last time I changed jobs was exactly that sort of situation. I needed the income from the job terribly, there were no other jobs in my line of work in the area, and I had to quit anyway. Ultimately, I had to get a job in a different city entirely as there were no other options, even though it means that my wife and I have to live separately for a few years. My decision to quit resulted in a lot of hardship that continues to this day — but not nearly as much hardship as I would have had if I continued working for them. Just of a different type.

It’s just a matter of what’s important to you, I guess.

Whatever (profile) says:

sales matter

What is funny to see is that Comcast’s approach isn’t different from many other companies. The idea is that every customer contact is not only a chance to deal with the issue the customer has in mind, but also a chance to retain them, to upsell them, and to give them more. It’s a business basic that it’s way easier (and way cheaper) to sell to your existing clients than it is to find new ones. It’s one of the reasons why these companies try to get into as many related markets as possible (cable, internet, phone, cellular, and so on), as they can market for a lot less.

I also find it funny to see people here suddenly getting upset. This concept isn’t new. The “always selling” concept is probably about as old as it gets, it’s the old “would you like fries with that” taken to it’s logical conclusion. I don’t like it either, but it’s not something that is new, it’s not something Comcast whipped up all by themselves, this is old, old, old.

Josh in CharlotteNC (profile) says:

Re: sales matter

it’s the old “would you like fries with that” taken to it’s logical conclusion.

There’s a difference between:

a) Would you like fries with that? No, okay, your total is $6.50, please drive around.


b) Would you like fries with that? No? But they’re tasty! Okay, what about a salad then? But you should eat healthier! Okay then, how about a milkshake? An apple pie? Can I supersize your drink? How about a wifi pass, they’re only a dollar? A coffee mug? A cheap plastic toy in the shape of the last Disney movie? Do you want to donate a dollar to help some medical disease? What about a buck to feed some kids in the third world?

There’s a difference between offering an additional product or service to increase your company’s value to the customer and trying to bleed your customer dry.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: sales matter

“Comcast’s approach isn’t different from many other companies”

It’s VERY different than literally every other company I deal with. Of course, with any other company (that is, a company that provides a service that is mandatory for me and has no competition), I wouldn’t put up with that behavior. I’d find a different company.

“I also find it funny to see people here suddenly getting upset.”

Nothing sudden about it.

JoeCool (profile) says:

Forever and ever

It’s ALWAYS been like that. Thirty years ago I worked one summer for Qube Cable in Houston, Texas. My job was supposed to be calling people who had been disconnected for non-payment and convincing them to pay the balance of their bill. In reality, we (there was a whole room of us supposed bill collectors) were expected to not just get them to pay their bill, but convince them to not just pay to get reconnected, but also buy the Disney Channel. A big board was kept that showed each member of the “team” and how many sales (and a sale only counted if it included selling the Disney Channel) we had made that day. They frequently had little “contests” with a bonus for whoever made the most sales during a set period. It was stressful work, and I quit after a couple months, “only” managing to convince two people a day to pay their bill, pay to get reconnected, and pay for the Disney Channel. My boss was very disappointed, and let me know in no uncertain terms how disappointed in my poor performance he was. He was especially hard on me about being honest with the customer – my job was to sell the Disney Channel, no matter what.

Anonymous Coward says:

"Where are the free-market conservatives?"

I’m not a free-market conservative myself, but in other places I’ve seen them commenting on this kind of issue. They usually say that the cable companies have this kind of monopoly because of the lack of a free-market situation; that is, if it weren’t for certain legislation sponsored (i.e. bought and paid for) by the big cable companies, there would be a lot more competition.
When I see the legislation being passed to prevent municipalities from setting up their own Internet services, it makes me think that they may have a point.

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