Comcast has done it again!
Almost a decade since the infamous sleeping technician (it’s only 8 years, but the “almost a decade” quote is relevant — read on*), Comcast has managed to demonstrate once again just why, and how much people hate the company. What’s the latest snafu? A customer service rep (in title at least) barked at a customer and her husband for almost 20 minutes while they tried to cancel their service. The husband managed to record the final 8 minutes or so — it makes for really painful listening.
Unfortunately, for Comcast, the husband — Ryan Block — is a bit connected online. He pasted the recording and it went viral over the past couple of days.
Many of the comments by readers to the various and sundry articles that I read call for the rep to be fired. Heck, CNET even asked in its headline whether he might be the worst customer service rep in the world. What all of this ignores is that this isn’t an isolated incident. Anyone that has tried to cancel internet/cellular/TV service, a credit card, or just a magazine subscription has experienced something similar. Generally, you need to put aside a chunk of time to spend on hold, arguing, and prepping with every last shred of information you might need — the third initial of your grandmother’s middle name? No, sir, that’s not what is in our records!
The barriers that firms place — hiding phone numbers, forcing you to run an exit script gauntlet, patronizing questions about why you’re leaving — do nothing but instill hostility towards the company. Why is it so hard to see that these actions are counter-productive?
In their statement in response to this incident, Comcast claimed to be “very embarrassed by the way our employee spoke with Mr. Block” and claim that the way the rep spoke to Block “is unacceptable and not consistent with how we train our customer service representatives.”
That smells like an incredibly large pile of horse manure to me. It’s staggering difficult to believe that this rep — and every colleague and peer of his with whom I’ve ever spoken — went off-reservation and decided to bark at a customer out of the blue. I would bet my shirt that not only is he trained to do everything he can to retain the customer, but he’s no doubt also compensated on “saves.”
While this call is horrifying to listen to, it’s not surprising. This is really what the media might call a “dog bites man” story — albeit an excruciatingly painful one. It would be a “man bites dog” story if this happened at Zappos or Disney. While Comcast might describe this as a “very unfortunate experience”, I can’t help but think that what they think is unfortunate is that the call was recorded and went viral. If they are truly bothered by it they need to change. What should Comcast — and the rest of us do? If I may channel Souza, they need to:
as though the world is listening
as though the world were watching
as though you actually care
* The recording brilliantly captures the rep’s incredulity that these customers are leaving “after a decade” as customers of the best service out there.