Comcast's Former Twitter Chief Says Dismal Support Won't Get Fixed Until Comcast Stops Being A Cheapskate

from the captain-obvious dept

While Comcast gets a lot of well-deserved grief for having the worst customer service in any industry, the company was actually among the first companies to use effectively Twitter as a front-line customer service tool, giving the company a more human face and a more direct line to customer issue resolution. One of the people running Comcast’s Twitter presence was Frank Eliason, who not only took on an entire Internet’s worth of Comcast-related anger on a daily basis, but from what I saw as a telecom beat blogger during his tenure was well-liked by most of the Comcast customers who dealt with him. Eliason left Comcast back in 2010, and has since marketed himself as an expert at treating customers properly.

It’s worth noting that despite Eliason’s help, Comcast wasn’t able to shore up its abysmal customer service back then because Twitter was essentially a band aid attached to a rotten apple. As a result, Comcast’s struggles continue today. In a blog post, Eliason rather politely gives Comcast some fairly simple advice: stop upselling everyone all the damn time, and more importantly, stop being cheap:

“Customer service is often the most expensive line on any company?s balance sheet, especially for a company like Comcast which has more than 300 million interactions each year. To help mitigate this we have watched company after company shift service to the cheapest source possible. Call centers tried to shift to become sales centers. This is why any time a customer calls, they?re pitched everything under the sun instead of actually helping you with the reason why you called in the first place. We have been in a age of outsourcing, and finding the cheapest means possible to provide customer service. Comcast has become the poster child for this shift in company thinking.”

While Eliason’s well intentioned, he likely knows Comcast will never make the kind of financial investment required to improve its customer service, since it lacks the competitive incentive to make these improvements. With no competitive pressure, and DSL providers actually backing away from DSL users they don’t want to upgrade (giving cable a larger and tougher monopoly than ever before), there’s really no financial penalty for skimping on customer service. The result is what we’ve all grown accustomed to: a decade of stories about low-quality subcontracted Comcast technicians that fall asleep on the job, blow up homes, occasionally murder people and get arrested for torturing and spray painting kittens (seriously).

With the company trying to get regulatory approval for its Time Warner Cable deal, Comcast has been making an awful lot of promises about finally fixing its unprecedentedly-awful support. Comcast has even gone so far as to hire a new VP of “Customer Experience” and design a new app that tries to tell you when your barely-trained technician is scheduled to arrive. But these are all still inexpensive band aids for a problem that runs to the root: Comcast’s not spending the serious money necessary to improve horrible customer service because it doesn’t have to. We’ve spent a decade gutting regional regulatory authority because of an often blind aversion to any regulations whatsoever, yet we’ve done little to nothing to seriously improve broadband competition woes.

As a result, Comcast’s customer satisfaction rankings are actually getting worse, and not even the best advice will be changing that anytime soon.

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Companies: comcast

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Comments on “Comcast's Former Twitter Chief Says Dismal Support Won't Get Fixed Until Comcast Stops Being A Cheapskate”

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Ninja (profile) says:

I’d add another cause for the abysmal service: stock market. This is basically a long time investment that must be couples with other things like providing neutral (and thus less profiting) services and upgrading the network. This brings more users and makes current users remain or even upgrade for better packages turning into better profits in the long run. But Wall Street wants profits now. It’s better to cash in 10 million now than 20 times that in 15 years in their myopic, greedy vision.

andyroo says:

Re: Re:

All of this could have been avoided if comcast had not lobbied themselves into the position they are in right now, Shareholders would now be reaping the benefits of owning stock in a business that covered the country and provided fibre to every home at a reasonable price. Greed is a bad thing and wall street is the greediest but if the government had not allowed the top 5 to gain the monopoly they have right now this would not have been an issue.

Wall street is an issue but only a part of the problem legal corruption is the cause of this and the fact that customers are very easily lead astray and still sign up to comcast in numbers better than those that are leaving.

Karl Bode (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I don’t know. I’ve argued for a long time that the very first step in improving broadband competition is stop letting AT&T, Verizon and Comcast write state telecom law that only acts to protect uncompetitive fiefdoms.

Net neutrality rules are only a band aid option for a lack of competition, but that lack of competition was built over a generation, even the best policies aren’t going to fix it overnight. Net neutrality rules are what happens in the interim.

andyroo says:

Re: Re: Re: Comcast provides another target...

Not that i would approve of it but if they suddenly had cables all over the country being cut and they lost a huge percentage of their customers who would i am sure object to paying for something they were not receiving well i am sure they would start listening to customers a lot more and be forced to stop trying to sell services and deal with actual issues especially if they could not supply those services because a cable was cut.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Baby steps. Look at the medical insurance situation; the world isn’t ending, 1% of existing premiums went up, but many, many more got insurance that suits their needs.

Are there still many problematic parts of medical care int he US? Sure. But charging people six figure sums for moderate stays in hospital is obscene.

I foresee a similar situation with the broadband and cable issues.

DB (profile) says:

To paraphrase Lily Tomlin on SNL: “We don’t care. We don’t have to. We are the cable company.”

Comcast is my only usable internet access option. It took me five hours on the phone to establish service at a house that had service a month before. There were multiple times where I was forwarded four times. Each time I had to re-verify my customer information and was pitched ‘Triple Play’ (even though my ordered internet-only service didn’t yet work!), before they told me they couldn’t help.

This had to have cost Comcast lots of money. But despite spending that money, they ended up with yet another negative impression.

Here is a quick hint to improve the customer experience and cut labor costs: instead of having service reps constantly pitch added services, limit it two times per customer issue. Once at the beginning and once at the end, when all outstanding problems have been fixed. Yes, that might involve tracking customer problems as unresolved. But shouldn’t you being doing that anyway?

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