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Lessons From the Comcast Customer Service Fiasco

Lessons From the Comcast Customer Service Fiasco
By Jennifer LeClaire

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A Comcast-like customer service disaster such as the one that happened to Ryan Block and his wife could happen to any company these days. People-facing employees like the Comcast customer service rep who talked to Block need to be constantly cautioned not to over push a customer who is dissatisfied and leaving, said analyst Rob Enderle.

Comcast doesn’t like customer churn any more than any other company in any other industry. But one of its service agents crossed the customer retention line -- and the customer caught it all on tape.

An eight-minute recording circulating the Internet reveals a Comcast employee hassled Ryan Block and his wife, Veronica Belmont, when they said they wanted to cancel their service. “Why is it that you’re not wanting to have the number one-rated Internet service, number one-rated television service available?” the rep asked.

The recording went massively viral by Tuesday, probably because Block works in the media and lit the fire. A former editor of Engadget, Block works for AOL as a writer and Web show host.

Block Keeps Pressing

Tom Karinshak, Senior Vice President of Customer Experience at Comcast Cable, said the company is “very embarrassed” by the way its employee spoke with Block and Belmont and have reached out to make a personal apology.

“The way in which our representative communicated with them is unacceptable and not consistent with how we train our customer service representatives. We are investigating this situation and will take quick action,” Karinshak said." While the overwhelming majority of our employees work very hard to do the right thing every day, we are using this very unfortunate experience to reinforce how important it is to always treat our customers with the utmost respect.”

Block fired back on Twitter: “I hope the quick action you take is a thorough evaluation of your culture and policies, and not the termination of the rep.”

What We Can Learn

We caught up with Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group, to get his take on the Comcast fiasco. He told us the incident highlights several issues.

“First, people often do some incredibly stupid things for what they think are the right reasons,” he said. “For instance, while I was at IBM we had a tech worker effectively pull the plug on a large firm's phone system because they didn't want to pay for a maintenance contract. The head of the division, unfortunately for the tech, was on that firm's board.”

Second, he continued, in this age of social media and analytics there is no reason not to know that a customer is in the media business -- and to make sure there is oversight for that account so the customer doesn't get an inexperienced customer service rep who can cause a viral blow up like this one.

A Comcast-like customer service fiasco could happen to any company these days, but Enderle believes this married couple may have called the cable operator as part of a story. The treatment they experienced had a very high probability of becoming a problem for executive management, he said, and no department head wants to be a problem for executive management.

“Finally, people-facing employees need to be constantly cautioned to not over push a customer who is dissatisfied and leaving,” Enderle said. “They are already unhappy with the service making them more unhappy with the exit treatment does no one any good.”

Tell Us What You Think



Posted: 2014-07-18 @ 5:51am PT
@Ken Frisbie You are such an idiot. Things can be easily googled these days. The caller in question is Ryan Block, the VP of Product at AOL. Unemployed huh? LOL.


Posted: 2014-07-17 @ 4:49pm PT
Yes, I agree that Comcast is bad. They are second to AT&T, who are the absolutely worst with lies, broken promises, and bad service.


Posted: 2014-07-17 @ 12:40pm PT
Naw, he's already famous. That's the only reason the recording went viral in the first place.

Ken Frisbie:

Posted: 2014-07-16 @ 2:55pm PT
I think the guy that called in and caused all the trouble and hatred towards Comcast is unemployed, and he recorded the call specifically with the intent of setting up the Comcast guy, making it go viral, to get his 15 minutes of fame and probably some job offers. Maybe that's the real story.


Posted: 2014-07-16 @ 2:10pm PT
Had to deal with Comcast when they were the only provider in my area, They were terrible and abusive. Had nothing but bad service and rude employees!! When I finally dropped them, they said I will get less and have to pay more if I cancel, By now I had enough... told them I would pay twice as much for half as many channels. Oh ya, they lied, I got a lot more for less and was treated a lot better... Never regretted it. Really, I wouldn't go back to Comast even if their service and rep's were worth a sh--, just because...

Paul Fletcher:

Posted: 2014-07-16 @ 1:53pm PT
Comcast customer policy is lacking with outsourcing representatives to India and it is real hard to understand their fast, grouped-up phrasing used in their accents. They do unannounced shutdown maintenance and offer pennies for your inconvenience when you call them on it. I don't use TV or movies, just the internet, and don't want any of their tradeoff products to sooth my anger when I'm seeking restitution for interrupted service. They lost my mailed check payment, recently, and I had to take my bank statement showing payment was collected to the office to get my account credited. My area was cut down to 4-5 mbps for months, in April and May, while they were upgrading for their recent modem upgrades and I was informed my personal modem was inferior and should be replaced. They gave me a loaner to try out and it was defunct. My IT tech came to my house and verified skimpy service with a Comcast tech-real time-and couldn't explain the difficulties. My modem checked out fine and is, still,in use, now, getting 20+ mbps any time of the day-I pay for high-speed internet-is this it? I am planning to live without internet, soon, to prevent my disappointment in this company becoming the biggest wrinkle in my happy fabric. I have an AS degree in Computer Science and am working on my graduate degree in programming. I may start my own company in order to put this garbage outfit out of it's misery. It seems Business majors can't take care of business. I'll find free Wi-Fi, until.

current comcast customer:

Posted: 2014-07-16 @ 1:27pm PT
People who are categorized as customer service should have the professional courtesy to at least pretend like they are there to help you. Instead, they are concerned about making sales pitches and twisting peoples arms to force customers to stay with them. I do not buy comcast's crappy comments when they say this is not how they train their employees. The customer service people are trained to respond this way. Too bad they don't have the balls to own up to their tactics. They get a bad rap for a reason.


Posted: 2014-07-16 @ 1:22pm PT
This happends all the time its not just the customers who are unsatisfied it is also the employees who try to scam customers after theyre let go by the company theyll come to your house saying they wanna pick up your equipment because your payments are past due when you always pay your bill on time. BEWARE OF THESE PEOPLE comcast will never come to your house unless you ask them too.

Greg S. Key:

Posted: 2014-07-16 @ 1:12pm PT
It shouldn't matter if the customer is in the media because all customers should be treated the same, that is, treated well. I believe Comcast is incapable of this. That has been my experience anyway.

former comcast customer:

Posted: 2014-07-16 @ 1:08pm PT
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