Apparently The Reason Comcast Has Crappy Customer Service Is Because It Was Lacking A 'Customer Experience' VP

from the now-that-that's-been-solved... dept

Comcast is notorious for its terrible customer service. It's not hard to find story after story after story after story after story after story about Comcast's customer service failures. And those are all just from the past three months (and we skip over plenty of those stories as well). It's gone on for years. It's why Comcast keeps winning the Worst Company in America award.

Every time these things happen, some top exec from Comcast comes out of his or her cave to tell us that these things are unacceptable and will change. As Karl Bode at Broadband Reports sums up, it's becoming like clockwork:
Comcast CEO Brian Roberts emerges every six months and makes a promise to fix things, though it's always with a dismissive attitude. It's because we're so big that we see so many complaints, he'll say, as if every other major company has employees consistently making the news for falling asleep at customer homes, murder, digging in the wrong yard blowing up laptops, dishwashers or homes -- or even animal cruelty.
But, apparently that's all over now. You know what was missing? A "Senior VP of Customer Experience" and now Comcast's got itself one of those:
The latest seemingly bi-annual promise to fix their abysmal customer satisfaction ratings comes via Comcast Executive VP Neil Smit, who in a blog post informs us that Comcast has hired Charlie Herrin to be the company's new "Senior VP of Customer Experience." Herrin will, according to Smit, "reimagine the customer experience and ensure that we are delighting our customers at each touch point."

"Over the last few years, we’ve been incredibly focused on product innovation and delivering great content and technology experiences," insists Smit. "But this is only one half of the customer experience equation. The other half is operational excellence in how we deliver service. The way we interact with our customers – on the phone, online, in their homes – is as important to our success as the technology we provide."
That's an interesting rewriting of history. The reality, of course, is that while Comcast has improved speeds, it's spent an awful lot of its time over the past few years on buying up companies and getting regulatory approval to grow its monopolistic appetite. And, it seems noteworthy that each time Comcast tries to do a big merger, part of the rationale presented is that this will somehow improve the customer experience. And yet, now they're more or less admitting that was never actually true.

Furthermore, what giant monopolistic provider of service do you know that has a reputation for providing good customer service? Competition leads to both innovations and good customer service, and that's not something that Comcast really faces anywhere these days. A VP of Customer Experience isn't likely to change that

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 26 Sep 2014 @ 6:20pm

    I think they should make the merger plans wait until they can show they are able to handle their customer service.
    Why allow them to become bigger and fail to serve even more customers.

    Well that and if the merger would only be approved if they got their shit together they would have it done a lot faster.

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

  • icon
    sorrykb (profile), 26 Sep 2014 @ 6:37pm

    reimagine the customer experience and ensure that we are delighting our customers at each touch point

    Ew, Comcast. no.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Sep 2014 @ 8:13am

      Re:

      This...statement...makes sense only if you ninja the definition of 'customer' to mean 'stockholder'.

      Note to aspiring MBAs: non-ironic and/or unthinking usage of 80s-style MarketingSpeak will result in a compulsory reimagining of your haircut into a mullet.

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

  • icon
    Carl "Bear" Bussjaeger (profile), 26 Sep 2014 @ 6:41pm

    "ensure that we are delighting our customers at each touch point."

    Sounds like they plan to add sexual molestation to the murder/explosion/kitty-torture repertoire. Perhaps someone should explain to them that "customer service" differs somewhat from the animal husbandry sort.

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

  • identicon
    Lawrence D’Oliveiro, 26 Sep 2014 @ 7:29pm

    Like The “Enterprise” Has A Science Officer

    And that’s how you know they care about science.

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 26 Sep 2014 @ 8:02pm

      Re: Like The “Enterprise” Has A Science Officer

      Now now, be fair, the Enterprise is actually capable of going fast, it doesn't deserve to be compared to Comcast.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Sep 2014 @ 8:58pm

    Suddenlink

    And when a customer service manager at Comcast finally gets fired, they get hired at Suddenlink.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Sep 2014 @ 10:21pm

    Maybe Comcrap should not compete by having their licenses as an ISP and a telco revoked.

    After all, they can't even handle people disliking their service without trying to scam them...

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

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, 27 Sep 2014 @ 6:06am

    Mike Masnick judt hates it when customer service improvement is enforced.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Sep 2014 @ 7:44am

    "We don't care - we don't have to..." [Geraldine]

    My sweetie and I are looking for a new apartment. One influential criterion is *not-Comcast*. It won't be the sole, deciding factor, but if the gods of the Intertubez smile, and *not-Comcast* happens, I will absolutely look forward to (and record for upload to the Interwebz) the phone call during which I cancel my service.

    From what I know via research and rumor, the alternatives are not as good bandwidth-wise, and their customer service sucks almost as much as Comcast. I am not expecting to be *happy* with another ISP...just satisfied to have *not-Comcast*.

    Does it even begin to register with Comcast that a customer would so despise their customer service as to make it an item in the "decision list" for where to live?!

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Sep 2014 @ 10:07am

      Re: "We don't care - we don't have to..." [Geraldine]

      Though time warner cable is WAY overpriced their Internet service is pretty good. Their cable service, OTOH, ...

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

  • identicon
    the threat to peace is the USA, 27 Sep 2014 @ 7:59am

    we hackers love the fbi and nsa

    no really we do they create all this business opportunity for otherwise unemployed basement dwelling bearded people

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Sep 2014 @ 9:04am

    i've never heard such total bollocks!! all this is is an excuse for them not caring or worrying about losing customers. because of the lack of competition, thanks to Congress, they thought they could do what they liked and get away with it for ever. what this new person filling a position that wasn't there and wasn't needed has done is make himself/herself available to be the 'fall person'! the real cure is for Congress to start laws as of now that introduce competition and also set standards of service of what is supplied and what is done when it breaks, as well as how the customers are treated, not how they are palmed off and bull shited!!

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

    • icon
      Cal (profile), 27 Sep 2014 @ 9:45am

      Re:

      "... the real cure is for Congress to start laws as of now that introduce competition..."

      We already have laws that (supposedly) STOP monopolies and cartels from being formed. But it does not good to have the laws if you have a treasonous scum running the agency in charge of making sure those things do NOT happen within the USA.

      Supreme Court stated in Red Lion v. FCC in 1969: “It is the purpose of the First Amendment to preserve an uninhibited marketplace of ideas in which truth will ultimately prevail, rather than to countenance monopolization of that market, whether it be by the Government itself or a private licensee. It is the right of the public to receive suitable access to social, political, esthetic, moral, and other ideas and experiences which is crucial here. That right may not constitutionally be abridged either by Congress or by the FCC.”

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

  • identicon
    zip, 27 Sep 2014 @ 9:07am

    the rules

    When faced with serious problems, there are two primary rules that all big companies follow:

    1. Blame the people at the bottom, and fire them to prove that you are "doing something."

    2. Create new positions at the top, whose primary function is enforcing rule #1.

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

  • identicon
    Shill on duty, 27 Sep 2014 @ 11:12am

    Come on mike, customer service costs money and do you honestly expect services to pay extra for all the customer service hogs? There should be customer service caps with extra premium charges that customer service hogs must pay because that's not fair to all of those that don't use customer service who are footing the bill for those that do.

    oh ... and ... it must be friday.

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

  • icon
    GEMont (profile), 27 Sep 2014 @ 2:51pm

    A brand new hat will solve the problem...

    A new PR Boss eh....

    He'll likely just do what TV execs do when they produce a Dead-Dog TV show and want everyone to think its a Masterpiece Production - start numerous ad campaigns that lie about how much everyone loves the new show and how everyone is talking about it, in the hopes that everyone will want to be a part of this claimed majority and watch the new show and talk about it. Trick their herd instinct.

    Or in Comcast's case, lie about how their new customer service is rated Number One by everyone that will accept bribes to write a glowing review, and then flood the blogs and social nets with sock puppet praise.

    But fix the actual customer experience, by giving customers what they want... that idea will never actually occur to anyone in Comcast and would likely get the new guy fired in a heart's beat were he to suggest it.

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

  • icon
    Austin (profile), 27 Sep 2014 @ 6:57pm

    A simple solution to all of this

    Burn the procedure binders.

    As bad as the economy is these days, a sizable portion of the customer service team at Comcast and every other ISP is composed of mid-20-somethings who have bachelors degrees in CS. These are people who, for the most part, actually know how to solve 90% of their customers' problems before they even get the job with the ISP. They're working a crappy CSR job because it's the only job anywhere in IT they can find, not because they're idiots.

    And what's the first thing that happens when they show up for their first day at work? They're told they have to follow the company's procedures to the letter, or risk termination. Even if they know the instant the customer calls that NONE of their procedures is going to fix their problem.

    So burn the procedure binders, and allow the (usually somewhat knowledgable) CSRs to use their free will. You'll be amazed at how often this will fix the problem.

    But the issue here isn't a lack of management. As is more often the case than not, the issue here is TOO MUCH management.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Sep 2014 @ 6:23am

      Re: A simple solution to all of this

      As a CSR at a major cable ISP I have to say that this is absolutely true. Management is composed of a bunch of technically incompetent Nazi types whose main talent is kissing up to the Nazi above them and making sure those below them are all goose-stepping in lock sync.

      Want to know why your stuff doesn't work? The minimum educational requirement for being an "engineer" there is a GED. The few employees who actually have technical degrees and are technically competent are kept at the bottom where they aren't a threat to the managers who don't have such degrees but yet are the ones making the technical decisions.

      It's the kind of buffoonery that would kill a company in a free market but when you've got a monopoly you can get away with it.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Sep 2014 @ 1:05pm

    It must be purely accidental...

    So, I was checking the Comcast site for how to return equipment - basically just lookin' for service center store-front locations. Got to this page:

    https://customer.comcast.com/help-and-support/cable-tv/returning-your-equipment/

    That page contains a link to "service centers" at the URL:

    https://www.comcast.com/Localization/Localize.ashx?Referer=/customers/contactus/paymentcenter/lo catePaymentCenter.ashx

    That link takes you to a page (http://www.comcast.com/upgrade-center/%20/error/500):

    Server Error in '/' Application.
    Runtime Error
    Description: An exception occurred while processing your request. Additionally, another exception occurred while executing the custom error page for the first exception. The request has been terminated.

    Really, if you look like you're trying to cancel service and return equipment that's a Runtime Exception that is so totally unhandled as to throw an HTTP 500 error code?! Well-played Comcast, well played indeed.

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

  • identicon
    Name, 28 Sep 2014 @ 2:38pm

    RE:

    Herrin will, according to Smit, "reimagine the customer experience and ensure that we are delighting our customers at each touch point."


    Touch me and I scream RAPE!

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

  • identicon
    Donglebert The Needlessly Unready, 29 Sep 2014 @ 3:37am

    Interesting that they're calling it "Customer Experience"

    and not "Customer Service".

    It certainly seems that dealing with Comcast is an experience, just not a good one.

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

  • identicon
    robert dirnfeld, 9 Apr 2015 @ 12:48pm

    Lousy customer service

    One man won't solve the problem, the way to solve the bad customer service is by firing ALL the Manager and supervisors regardless since they were the ones that permitted it to get that way and maybe the lower echelon employees would start to be good at their job. Charlie Herrin cannot do the job without cleaning house, regardless of how many have to be fired, I support cleaning house, who cares about their welfare since they never cared about the customers who in reality gave them their job

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


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Special Affiliate Offer
Anonymous number for texting and calling from Hushed. $25 lifetime membership, use code TECHDIRT25
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.