Comcast: A Case of Customer Satisfaction “DON’Ts”

I write a lot about customer satisfaction market research.  Yet, no amount of customer satisfaction research can replace common sense.  Every business knows that a satisfied customer is a returning customer.  Except Comcast.  No customer satisfaction survey will ever provide you with useful feedback if the quality of your customer service is blatantly bad to begin with.

Yesterday evening, my high-speed Internet access went out.  And because I have both phone and Internet access through Comcast, I also lost dial tone on my landline.  From my business phone, I called Comcast to report the outage.  And from that point until a few minutes ago, the textbook example of customer service “Don’ts” emerged one by one.

DON’T Keep Doing Things that Don’t Work!

It was Friday afternoon, almost 5:00.  The customer service agent attempted to reset my modem remotely.  That didn’t work (in fact, in the five times my Internet connection has gone out over the past year, that approach has never worked).  The result: A technician was going to have to come to my home to fix it.  Wonderful.  That leads me to the next “Don’t:”

Don’t Inconvenience the Customer

These days, almost everything runs on Internet or phone.  I realize the weekend was on, but a company should try to get these matters resolved quickly.  The soonest Comcast could send a technician would be Sunday, at 8:00 a.m.  Not only is that unresponsive, it ignores that fact that households may have church obligations.  And at 8:00 in the morning?  Anyone who’s not in church is probably sleeping in. 

Fortunately, my Internet service and dial tone came back on an hour later.  I decided to wait until Comcast called to confirm the appointment to tell them not to come.  Then came the next Don’t:

DON’T Call the Customer Just to Put Him/Her on Hold!

Around 1:30 this afternoon, my cell phone rings.  It’s a recorded message saying to the effect: “This is Comcast calling about your scheduled service.  Please wait for an agent.”  Huh?  If you are calling a customer, make sure you have someone ready to talk to the customer when he/she answers the phone.  Would you call your friend and say: “Steve, this is Alex.  Hold on for one second until I’m ready to talk to you”?  But even that wasn’t the worst part:

DON’T Annoy the Customer

That recorded message played over and over again!  After six or seven repetitions, I hung up and decided to call Comcast directly to cancel my trouble call.  And then more Don’ts:

DON’T HAVE AN INCONVENIENT AUTOMATED SYSTEM

It took about 4 minutes to work through the customer service menu items.  And then…

DON’T KEEP IN-BOUND CUSTOMER CALLS WAITING

First of all, make it easy for customers to call in and report their issue and set, adjust, or cancel their trouble calls.  Second, make sure you have adequate staff to handle calls.  People calling customer service are likely already frustrated.  Long hold times will only agitate their frustration.  It was almost 10 minutes I was on hold.  I finally spoke to the agent and then cancelled the trouble call.  I thought that was the end of it.  But a new don’t emerged:

DON’T Use Automation Technology if it’s Not Working Properly

Less than 20 minutes after I hung up with the Comcast agent, my cell phone rang.  It was Comcast again.  Calling with that same recorded message, telling me to wait for an agent.  10 more times I heard it.  Shouldn’t Comcast’s system have recorded my cancellation in real time?  I was annoyed and decided to wait for the agent, and when she came on the line I told her how annoying that message is.  Her reply brought me to the final don’t…

DON’T IGNORE COMMON COMPLAINTS

The agent acknowledged that many customers complained about that infernal recording and it was “reported to management”.  Reported to management?  Why hasn’t management done anything about it?  If Comcast had given me a customer satisfaction survey at that point, the scores would have all been the lowest I could give.

Too bad Comcast has virtually no competition in my community.  After a couple hundred disgruntled customers defected to other phone/cable/Internet providers, Comcast would get the message and respond nimbly to customer dissatisfaction.  Until then, they have Carte Blanche to be a textbook case of customer service disasters. 

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