Comcast still doesn’t have a clue

Fresh on the heels of my great experience with Verizon Wireless, Comcast provided a fantastic display of how bad they are at what they do. This is what happens when you have a localized monopoly. We’re supposed to get Verizon FIOS in three years, which is probably four plus years after we should have gotten it. I don’t know what sort of negotiations had to happen between DC and Verizon, but anything beyond, “Yes, Verizon, here’s your building permit” was probably not in the best interests of the DC residents. But that’s not the point here. The point here is that Comcast is terrible. Let’s look past the fact that they have to come out every 6-8 months and fix something because our signal strength has dropped to the point that our cable goes out. Never mind that they just keep inching the price up. No, my big complaint is the huckster who called me up this afternoon. He just caught me before I left to pick up the little gremlin from daycare. He starts off by telling me that Comcast has a great deal for me, only $10 more a month or something for Comcast Blast internet, which is super fast and awesome, and they’ll give me free Showtime, and boy are there some great shows coming out on Showtime, and if I sign up right now I can get some other fabulous prize, we can get you all upgraded within two business days, so can we set up an appointment right now? He didn’t take a breath or deviate from the script. By the halfway point, he could have offered me a couple of terabytes per second download speed for six cents a year and I would have turned him down. So, what did he do wrong that Verizon did right? He talked at me. I know, Verizon was lowering my bill, which is obviously much easier to sell, but that’s not really the point. The Comcast guy talked quickly, making sure he got everything out and asked me to sign up before I really had a chance to think about what his offer was. He didn’t really explain what the difference between what I have now and what he was offering. The Verizon guy actually had a conversation with me, clearly explaining what he was doing, how it would be different from what I had now (And he was looking at my account, so he knew what I was paying for), and why it would be better. When I told the Comcast guy I wasn’t interested, he tried to convince me. He asked why not. I stumbled for a minute, wanting to say, “Because you’re reading a script, and I hate being upsold”, but I didn’t really feel like getting into it. The Verizon guy knew my account, and knew how he could get me a better deal. The Comcast guy knew nothing about me beyond my name, and made me an offer that wasn’t terribly compelling. I hope Comcast is terrified of the arrival of Verizon FIOS. And I hope they deal with it by improving their service rather than lame attempts at upselling their customers. And Comcast? If you’re still reading and responding to unhappy blog posts about your service, make sure you read my post this time.

That’s not the way to win fans, Comcast

I posted the other day about the funny exchange I had with Comcast’s online help. In the middle of last night, someone (or, more likely, some script) posted a comment.

Thanks for sharing this post and I apologize for the experience. I will make sure that this is passed on the appropriate department for evaluation. Most importantly, we would like to have our customers have a good experience. I am also sorry to learn that you are deciding to cancel your cable service. If you are interested, I can reach out to my contacts and see if we can offer a lower-rate package including both services for you. If you are interested, please send me the phone number listed on your account so that I can assist further. Thanks again for sharing this post. Best Regards, Mark Casem Comcast Corp. National Customer Operations

First of all, it’s nice that Comcast is looking at what people say about them online. This makes good business sense. But that’s where the good decisions end. What mistakes did Comcast make? Let me list them for you. First, they clearly didn’t read the post. The comment responds to the general gist of the post, but not the details. That, coupled with the timestamp, suggests that this was not a person but an automated script. Engaging dissatisfied bloggers in conversation about how you can provide better service is great. Spamming blog comments with vague promises to fix things is not. If Mark Casem wants to personally sign the comment, then I want Mark Casem’s email address, not some generic help address. Sure, this means that Mark Casem is going to get a lot of junk mail, but there are always costs associated with doing business. Comcast’s IT department can get a better spam firewall. Second, they could have contacted me directly. Every blog has an “About” page. Mine is right here. It tells you how to contact me. Some people already have. A ten-second personal email would have been so much more effective than this. Third, if a package is available at a lower rate, why don’t you just give that to people? Sure, it costs you some money on people who would have never known about it. But don’t you think it might create some customer loyalty? When Verizon Fios comes to DC, if they’re offering a better deal, do you think people who have been overpaying Comcast are going to stick around? It is somewhat ironic that a complaint about how the customer service people are nearly indistinguishable from a well-designed IM bot gets a response from another customer service person who is indistinguishable from a computer program. Or maybe it’s not ironic but appropriate. In any event, it’s unhelpful. Too bad Comcast didn’t make a real effort to engage me. I would have happily spoken to a real person, and would have blogged about the good experience. I know I complain a lot, so I make an extra effort to also talk about the things that go right. But you missed your chance this time, Comcast. I’m not emailing your help desk. If a real person comes back here and talks to me about my problem, not about the problem that other customers who use the same keywords have, I’ll talk. Edit to add: As you can see in the comments, Mark Casem replied directly with his email address. I’ll be contacting him later today, and I’ll let everyone know how it goes.