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!


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    Rikuo (profile), Aug 6th, 2014 @ 12:27pm

    ...if this was me, I'd just pretend I was crazy by saying "Dem wifi signals mess with our brainz!! Even the cables have wifi, and they're getting into my noggin!"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    GMacGuffin (profile), Aug 6th, 2014 @ 1:13pm

    At this point, one can just say, "Look, I've got your playbook right here. Would you like me to call your moves out by number for you as you work down the list? Or can we just jump to the end where I cancel, which is going to happen anyway."

     

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  3.  
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    ysth (profile), Aug 6th, 2014 @ 2:21pm

    Is General Electric in Schenectady a Comcast area?

    Zip code 12345.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 6th, 2014 @ 2:21pm

    Why is this sort of behavior not illegal? I'm OK with customer service reps trying to address any problems that may have prompted me to cancel, but once I've made up my mind you have no right to obstruct that.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 6th, 2014 @ 2:28pm

    ... 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.

     

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  6.  
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    Rabbit80 (profile), Aug 6th, 2014 @ 2:29pm

    Monty Python

    For some reason, this whole fiasco reminds me of this...
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4vuW6tQ0218

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 6th, 2014 @ 2:31pm

    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!

     

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  8.  
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    Lord Binky, Aug 6th, 2014 @ 2:33pm

    The best part of these customer service documentations is finding out what discounts and specials the CSR is able to offer you, and knowing the flags to meet the criteria for the CSR to be allowed to make the offer.

     

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  9.  
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    Baron von Robber, Aug 6th, 2014 @ 2:34pm

    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
    "Overrulled!"

    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."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
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    TKnarr (profile), Aug 6th, 2014 @ 2:36pm

    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.

     

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  11.  
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    Anon, Aug 6th, 2014 @ 2:43pm

    Obviously...

    "-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."

     

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  12.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Aug 6th, 2014 @ 3:19pm

    Dead

    Heh, since the say the representative must confirm other things that are none of their business (moving in with another comcast customer, etc.) but they don't need to confirm death, I'm in favor of just saying "I need to cancel my service. I'm dead." Or, for extra morbidity, "I will be dead in 3 days".

     

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  13.  
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    angry webmaster, Aug 6th, 2014 @ 3:41pm

    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.

     

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  14.  
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    Arthur Moore (profile), Aug 6th, 2014 @ 3:50pm

    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.

     

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  15.  
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    David, Aug 6th, 2014 @ 3:52pm

    Re:

    It would appear that you did not bother reading the list. Canceling is not actually an option.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 6th, 2014 @ 3:54pm

    Re: Re:

    Rule no. 1: Failure is always an option (even if you won't like the results...)

     

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  17.  
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    David, Aug 6th, 2014 @ 4:04pm

    Re: Dead

    Or, for extra morbidity, "I will be dead in 3 days".

    Bad move. "Please call back then."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
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    tracyanne, Aug 6th, 2014 @ 4:12pm

    They all do it

    Both Optus and Telsra (our Duopoly), and the smaller companies that use their wholesale services do it, as well. The trick is to understand that this is going to happen, and take advantage of it.

    That's how I've managed to keep my unlimited broadband, even though it was a limited time offer.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
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    Doug (profile), Aug 6th, 2014 @ 4:38pm

    Opposite

    I don't have Comcast. I want to call to try to cancel and be "saved" into signing up for Comcast just so that I can then call to actually cancel and have the fun of thwarting the script.

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 6th, 2014 @ 5:00pm

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
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    z! (profile), Aug 6th, 2014 @ 5:02pm

    "I'm calling to cancel my service."
    "Why?"
    "Because after (insert date) I won't be paying any bills I get from comcast."
    "oh, is there anything we can do?"
    "yes, stop sending bills. I'll leave the modem on the doorstep."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 6th, 2014 @ 6:00pm

    "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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 6th, 2014 @ 6:13pm

    And Comcast issues bogus DMCA takedown request ignoring obvious Fair Use in 3, 2, 1....

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    me, Aug 7th, 2014 @ 4:34am

    Soem of this is pretty silly

    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."

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    me, Aug 7th, 2014 @ 4:38am

    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?"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 7th, 2014 @ 4:54am

    Re: Re:

    It has jack shit to do with credit ratings.

    You should be able to phone up your ISP and cancel if you please (obviously if your contract has ended).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 7th, 2014 @ 5:44am

    Re: They all do it

    i do it to lower my bill.

    "i saw an ad...and they are offering it for less. so i need to cancel"

    talk big...they lower the price by $50 or more

    everyone wins!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
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    limbodog (profile), Aug 7th, 2014 @ 7:34am

    Why not honesty?

    "Because I loathe your unethical and corrupting employer with every fiber of my being."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Aug 7th, 2014 @ 7:57am

    Re: So that explains it!

    But DirecTV sucks for internet service.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 7th, 2014 @ 8:14am

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 7th, 2014 @ 8:21am

    Response to: Anonymous Coward on Aug 6th, 2014 @ 6:00pm

    No, that just qualifies you for a 'winback offer'.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 7th, 2014 @ 8:28am

    THE RAPTURE is taking me home , I'm sorry but GOD didn't give me an address. but if you want you can join me, just give me your address and phone number I'll be sure to call you and pass your information along to all my friends.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 7th, 2014 @ 8:52am

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

    Simply say that you don't know the address you are moving to yet, but you will be happy to call them once you get moved in.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 7th, 2014 @ 9:01am

    Let problems solve problems

    Hi, I want to cancel. I'm an NSA spook and have been reassigned. Please don't give me the script or grief, my employer has people to firmly deal with those who have a penchant for trying to obtain unauthorized information. Thank You.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
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    jsf (profile), Aug 7th, 2014 @ 9:16am

    I've always used the moving reason, even when not moving. It just gets things done faster. If anyone were to ever ask where to I would just give them the address of my in-laws dairy farm. The nearest town is miles away and the town is too small to even have cable TV.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 7th, 2014 @ 9:21am

    Re: Dead

    Expect the next revision to add "(CAE must verify death certificate)".

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
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    Blue Sweater (profile), Aug 7th, 2014 @ 10:54am

    Re: Stop them at #3

    "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."

    Wonder if that would actually be true? Any Lawyers or people who play lawyers on the interwebs know?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Aug 8th, 2014 @ 12:26am

    Re: Why not honesty?

    To which they may or may not reply(depending on honesty and whether or not the call is being monitored/recorded):

    "So do I sir/madam, but I still have to go through the list."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2014 @ 4:39am

    they give grief even when the account holder is deaf

    So my father had Comcast and he passed away a couple years ago. Comcast insisted that I provide a death certificate before they would cancel

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
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    Ninja (profile), Aug 8th, 2014 @ 4:58am

    Re: Stop them at #3

    It's easier to just babble nonsensical arabic-like things after they refuse to cancel for the second time then resume speaking English with the sayings Allah's wrath will descend upon you if you don't cancel my account right now.

    Sure the DOJ may come knock your door next morning but that's just collateral damage.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
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    Ninja (profile), Aug 8th, 2014 @ 5:00am

    Re:

    I'd insist that I'm dead and I'm calling from the Heavens where I just moved to. I'd ask politely if Comcast serves these parts of the spiritual plane and things like that.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Aug 8th, 2014 @ 7:01am

    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.'

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Aug 8th, 2014 @ 8:44am

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

    They'd stop insisting as soon as the bill stopped getting paid.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 10th, 2014 @ 4:46am

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 13th, 2014 @ 12:28am

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

    Well yes, I'm pretty sure the dead are quite deaf.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 15th, 2014 @ 5:17pm

    Re: Re:

    So they would then mark down 'incapacitated,' at least mentally.... So it works!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  47.  
    identicon
    sam Harris, Feb 11th, 2015 @ 1:01am

    Free Online Games

    Hi i am really happy to see your website its very usefull to me thanks for your link this link is also very great . Free Online Games

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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