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Comcast Cries Mea Culpa on ‘Hellish’ Service Call…But Does It Make a Difference?

bad customer service comcast

Comcast pissed off the wrong customer last week when it botched a service call with Ryan Block, former editor of the tech site Engadget and product developer at AOL.

NPR called it “condescending“; Gawker called it “hellish“; The Verge called it “a nightmare“; Yahoo called it “terrorizing.”

As fellow PRNewser Shawn Paul Wood posted earlier, “flacks who enjoy the various #PRFail called it ‘priceless’”. In case you missed it, you can hear what went down at the link: Comcast ‘Provides’ What May Be The Worst Service Call Ever. ”

A week later, the company’s Chief Operating Officer Dave Watson calls it “typical”, saying the incident was “painful to listen to” but that the rep “did a lot of what we trained him…to do.”

Although the letter was posted to Team Comcast employees’ website, you can be sure that the COO has others in mind when crafting the note. Could this be the next step in Comcast’s effort to clean up its bad PR?

For the record, we do appreciate the COO’s decision to accept the blame rather than pinning it on the rep. Full letter after the jump (h/t Consumerist):

A Message From Dave Watson,
July 21, 2014

You probably know that there has been a fair amount of media attention about a recording of a phone call between one of our Customer Account Executives (CAEs) and a Comcast customer. The call went viral on social media and generated news headlines. We have apologized to the customer privately and publicly on Comcast Voices, making it clear that we are embarrassed by the tone of the call and the lack of sensitivity to the customer’s desire to discontinue service.

I’d like to give you my thoughts on the situation.

First, let me say that while I regret that this incident occurred, the experience that this customer had is not representative of the good work that our employees are doing. We have tens of thousands of incredibly talented and passionate people interacting with our customers every day, who are respectful, courteous and resourceful.

That said, it was painful to listen to this call, and I am not surprised that we have been criticized for it. Respecting our customers is fundamental, and we fell short in this instance. I know these Retention calls are tough, and I have tremendous admiration for our Retention professionals, who make it easy for customers to choose to stay with Comcast. We have a Retention queue because we believe in our products, and because we offer a great value when customers have the right facts to choose the package that works best for them. If a customer is not fully aware of what the product offers, we ask the Retention agent to educate the customer and work with them to find the right solution.

The agent on this call did a lot of what we trained him and paid him — and thousands of other Retention agents — to do. He tried to save a customer, and that’s important, but the act of saving a customer must always be handled with the utmost respect. This situation has caused us to reexamine how we do some things to make sure that each and every one of us — from leadership to the front line — understands the balance between selling and listening. And that a great sales organization always listens to the customer, first and foremost.

When the company has moments like these, we use them as an opportunity to get better, and that’s what we’re going to do. We will review our training programs, we will refresh our manager on coaching for quality, and we will take a look at our incentives to ensure we are rewarding employees for the right behaviors. We can, and will, do better.

Thank you for your support, and many thanks to the thousands of exceptional employees all around the country who work so hard to deliver a great customer experience every day. I am confident that together we will continue to improve the experience, one customer at a time.

Dave Watson
Chief Operating Officer, Comcast Cable

He forgot to add “…but let’s all hope that future customers don’t capture that experience and distribute it online.”

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