Twitter Won’t Make You Suck Less. Ask Comcast

by on 10/21/2009 • 51 Comments | Social Media

social media bandaidI giggled when I read TechCrunch this morning. I just couldn’t help it. Here’s why.

There are A LOT of businesses trying to elbow their way into social media right now. We get people contacting us every day asking for social media and ORM strategies to help put out the fires that ignite around them. They think that creating a Twitter account or being active on Facebook will help them “listen” and “engage”. And it will. But listening alone won’t do anything to fix the core issue. And the issue is often that their product simply sucks. That’s what they need to fix.

Which brings us to Comcast.

If you saw TechCrunch this morning you read the post about how Twitter changed the culture of Comcast. How “Famous Frank” helped the company become more responsive to customers and altered the conversation. He’s right; they have changed the conversation. Now when people talk about how badly Comcast sucks, they preface it with how responsive the company is. Comcast hasn’t learned anything. They’re just shelling out more bandaids.

Often – used, dirty bandaids.

Last year Rebecca Kelley shared an experience she had with Comcast where they refused to cancel her NBA League Pass because the season had already started. Like any red-blooded American, Becs went to Twitter to express her rage after attempts to phone the company had failed. The moment she hit Twitter, the situation was resolved and her account was credited. She was placated. Happy, even. Until this year when they charged her for the exact same package she had canceled a year ago.

comcastfail

There’s a difference between hearing and forgetting, and listening and responding. Comcast hasn’t learned or fixed anything.

My history with men has taught me that a guy can only cook you dinner once to say, “I’m sorry”. After that, he’s not sorry. He just knows that cooking you dinner gets him out of trouble. Comcast has been cooking you dinner for a year and a half.

You’re probably cooking a lot of people dinner, too.

Don’t use social media as a bandaid. Instead, learn what’s not currently working in your organization and what people want to see. And then, for the love of God, FIX IT! That is the point of all the listening – to improve on what you’re doing.  To learn what people want so that you can give it to them. You don’t get a gold star for being in the conversation, you get MONEY for creating a product or service that people actually want to use. Increasing your ROI is the goal behind social media. Not unicorns. Do not forget that. Put it on a plaque if you need to.

People want you to be human, but they don’t need to be your friend. At the end of the day, they just want you to give them a good product, something that they can trust. That should be your end goal in everything that you do. Collecting the information that you need to improve your business and what you offer people. Let’s not be morons. No one likes Zappos because they’re engaging with people. We like them because they offer a great product. Yes, we choose them over the other online shoe retailers because they’re human and we relate to them, but they can be as human as they want, if the product sucks, you’re not buying from them.

Do what Comcast hasn’t and learn. Because at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how well or how quickly you respond to your customers if they’re still not satisfied with what you’re giving them. A crap product is crap, regardless of how well it engages with you.

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About the Author

Lisa Barone

Lisa Barone co-founded Outspoken Media in 2009 and served as Chief Branding Officer until April 2012.

Get social with Lisa at Twitter

51 thoughts on “Twitter Won’t Make You Suck Less. Ask Comcast

  1. Wow this post is about as relevant as it gets for me. Tomorrow on the 22nd of October, a Comcast tech is going to come over and get me set up after transferring my service to my new apartment!

    I MOVED IN ON OCTOBER 1st!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    22 days without service has me a little on the ABSOLUTELY FREAKING PISSED side of the bed lately. I won’t get into my dealings with Comcast, because that would be my own post in itself, but you are right. They responded well, but ultimately couldn’t solve my problem. And what’s worse is that the problem was pretty simple. They had people monitoring Twitter for my inevitable bad mouthing of Comcast, but would usually send me to an email address, which is great with no internet connection! I mean how am I supposed to read Outspoken’s Blog???

    I will say that in the end it was a customer operations person that reached out to me on twitter that seemed to make the biggest difference by listening to me and then acting on it. Problem is that it was about 20 days too late! If you can’t actually help me then don’t respond! Sometimes I just feel like saying Fuck Comcast on my twitter page!

  2. One conclusion you could draw is that Comcast can’t solve their customer services issues so instead they try to manage the visible damage i.e. “we know we suck, but we don’t want people stating that we suck”.

    The other conclusion you can take away is that if you deliver a great product or service (think Zappos), the conversation is much easier because your customers are doing a lot of the conversing for you. Its really the ideal.

  3. Evan: If you’d email me your address, I’d like to send you some cookies. Cookies heal all frustrations.

    I think you hit the nail on the head though. Obviously, Comcast has someone watching for all the people badmouthing them. And they’re good at reaching out — but at the end of the day, the service just isn’t what it needs to be. So they’re placating you with hopes and promises and engagement while they drop things out of view. But that only works for so long. Try not to yell at the nice man (or woman) they send to hook up your cable and Internet tomorrow. It’s not their fault. :)

    Gene: That’s exactly what they’re doing, they’re managing the “visible damage” so that people see that Comcast “cares”…but they don’t care. Because if they cared, they’d fix the damn problem to begin with. Instead you get a bandaid.

  4. I would be happy to discuss the improvements over the past few years that have happened at Comcast. These are a result of listening to our Customers through a variety of means. Have we always gotten right? No, but we are working hard to learn from our Customers to ensure we create the right experience for our Customers. We accept feedback through other methods to, such as through our Email Rick program. To send us feedback visit our contact us page:
    http://www.comcast.com/contactus

    We recently introduced our Customer Guarantee:
    http://www.comcast.com/Corporate/Customers/CustomerGuarantee.html

    We will continually strive to improve and create the best possible experience.

    Thank you!
    Frank Eliason
    Comcast
    @ComcastCares on Twitter
    [email protected]

    • I took a look at your customer service guarantee after a day long battle to have my roomate exchange our box for one that works. Its pretty much a list of statements that cover Comcast’s butt for the first 30 days of service or so. For instance, one of my favorite: “We will continually offer the best and most video choices”. Awesome! Really? I don’t know about the rest of the country but our choice in Tallahasse is Comcast or nothing. So yeah, I guess Comcast does have the best and most videos. Or maybe just the ONLY videos on TV. Another awesome one: “We will quickly address any problem you experience”. I actually found this to be true, over the internet and over the phone, until I actually showed up at the office and everything the corporate office told me was a lie. The excuse: ‘well its a policy at this location that isn’t in effect everywhere. The representatives on the phone wouldn’t have known that”. WOUDLN’T HAVE KNOWN THAT?! What?! Isn’t that their job? So the customer service reps just try to get you off the phone and into the office so they can tell you in person that they really aren’t going to solve your problem. Thanks Comcast, you’re the best. I hope dish network explodes and you lose all your customers.

  5. My history with men has taught me that a guy can only cook you dinner once to say, “I’m sorry”. After that, he’s not sorry. He just knows that cooking you dinner gets him out of trouble. Comcast has been cooking you dinner for a year and a half.

    You’re probably cooking a lot of people dinner, too.

    If only I had the opposite of a comma idiot board to post this on. It’s dead on. You’re not sorry if you don’t fix it. You’re not “taking it seriously” if it remains a problem.

  6. Unfortunately, the alternative for me is Verizon. They are way, WAY worse. This makes Comcast seem like a good option, when in reality, they are just the lesser of two evils. Hopefully both will figure it out eventually . . . but I doubt it.

  7. Fantastic post, as usual, Lisa. The dinner analogy is a great one. Companies should not make promises they can’t keep, especially in social media where it’s very easy to call them on it.

    Thanks for calling attention to this.

  8. Frank: [knocks on glass] Is that even a human response?

    It’s not about always getting it right, but it is about being better today than you were yesterday. I don’t think Comcast has gotten to that point, not when people are still expressing the same complaints over the same issues. And really, it take Comcast almost a month to set up someone’s cable but you’re a this post in 5 minutes. That sounds like a mix up of priorities. As Susan comments down below, you’re not “taking it seriously” if the problem exists a year later.

    Susan: I actually have a reverse comma idiot board. It’s where I keep all the emails Graywolf sends me.

  9. I cannot believe ComCast left a comment on your blog that says “ComCast Cares” but looks like it came from an automated bot (or a bot-like person). Their comment so supports your point that I’m still not certain it’s real and not more good satire (please tell me, I have to know).

    As for a guy cooking you dinner twice … hey, we make lots of mistakes, for lots of reasons. I guess it depends on the screw-up, but I don’t think there’s a guy out there who can survive the “you only get one screw up” rule. Sorry.

  10. The thing is, Comcast, or any other cable company, doesn’t have to not suck. They’re basically monopolies in whatever market they occupy. At least they have been in every U.S. city I’ve ever lived in. They might actually try to fix things if they knew that after waiting 22 days for them to show up, you could just cancel the install, and get set up with Cox or Time Warner instead. In fact, that would happen a lot sooner than the 22 day mark. Until more than one cable company is allowed to serve the same market, there is no incentive for improvement on their part.

  11. As requested I am back. That email from Comcast listed above…yeah I wrote them a letter and didn’t really get me anywhere. I want to go on record and say that the people I dealt with at Comcast were very nice to me and some even went out of their way to TRY and help me. The problem is that they simply couldn’t fix the issue. It is an issue that is above them and needs to be addressed by the leaders. That is what this post is about. You can keep in touch with me and go out of your way to call me back, or joke with me on Twitter, but I just want your product to work like it should. We don’t need to become friends!

    Immediate attention is nice but immediate results are better.

  12. Social media does empower the consumer but unfortunately some consumers are abusing their new empowerment by publicly challenging businesses on cases that shouldn’t be made public or cases of the business doing normal business but the consumer just felt like ranting about price or service.

    I guess it can work both ways, but social media is forcing businesses to step up the damage control and “hopefully” make improvements to the quality of product or service where needed.

  13. Ugh. I hate Comcast. Cable companies=monopolies=shit service. If you talk to three different people about the same problem, they will all give you an entirely different diagnosis. Then probably try to make you go into a service office which is useless and feels like the DMV.

    LOL’d (in my head) about Comcast cooking us dinner.

  14. I love that after @ComcastCares comment Susan quotes your line about only being able to cook you dinner once to say that you are sorry. The fact that Comcast is listening is great, it’s appreciated, but the listening needs to lead to resolving the underlying causes of dissatisfaction otherwise it’s either useless or insincere.

    There’s a lot of talk about Twitter turning us all into whiners, but if the only way that consumers can get a response then what is really going on is that companies are training us, using social media, to whine.

  15. Gil: It looks legit, which is completely irritating. What better way to show how clueless you are than to comment on this post sounding like a fucking robot. Way to go, Comcast. You’ve now pissed me off and I’m not even a customer of yours.

    And yes, guys can screw up twice, but it can’t be the SAME screw up and the same dinner. :)

    Thomas: But are we whining or are we voicing valid complaints? It’s only “whining” because nothing’s changing. If the guy would pick his damn socks off the floor, we wouldn’t have to “whine” to keep reminding him. They’d just be off the damn floor, you know? :) But I agree, the “listening” is great, but if you don’t do anything to correct the problem, what’s the point?

  16. @Thomas, I don’t think Twitter has turned anyone in whiners. I think it’s given us a platform for something we’ve all been doing for a long time already, just on a much smaller, quieter level, one complaint letter at a time. Consumers can wield a lot of power with their dollars–or, in some cases, their complaints–but it only has a real, measurable effect when it’s practiced or heard by a large group.

    One person canceling or complaining about their Comcast service won’t hurt the company. Big deal. They’ll have another subscriber within seconds. But if hundreds, or even thousands of people were to cancel? Yeah, they’d feel that. But since that many people are not going to give up the only cable/phone/internet service available to them, that leaves complaining.

    I do agree, though, that companies bring this kind of response on themselves.

  17. Congratulations Lisa

    Having, in a previous life, worked in corporate customer service, I can assure you that the reply above from ComcastCares is pure 100% scripted bullshit and not a real human participating in this conversation in an unscripted manner. Comcast with their essentially monopolistic control over the markets they operate in, cares about one thing above all else – corporate profits that don’t get diluted by such nonsense as improved response times to technical customer complaints, faster installations, or eliminating incorrect charges in a timely manner. All of those things cost them money.

    Sure, you and I and every other consumer thinks “but they’d make so much more by being the Zappos of TV/Internet connectivity…” Actually their pinheads in suits don’t think so. It’s statistically to their benefit to short-change existing customers and provide inferior service through improperly trained telephone reps because of how monopolistic the business really is.

    As far as them even bothering to give the “appearance” of caring – well that’s 100% for the sake of potential new customers who they can bombard with that crap in commercials and ads. They don’t have to convince existing customers or provide quality service because many existing customers don’t have the choice to switch – most people in an apartment or condo can not get satellite dishes. And Comcast pinheads also understand the psychology of those who could switch. They know that corporate mediocrity has long since become the norm in America. And because of that, customers who might be able to switch don’t because “for the most part” the service is “okay”.

    Because the odds statistically are in their favor in that regard, they’re not motivated to be real in their claims about caring. /rant

  18. I have no idea how Frank’s initiatives on Twitter have impacted the culture of the organization. However, the fact that they use the medium to solve some complaints from people smart enough to engage them there places them far ahead of most other organizations that don’t listen.

    Folks also need to realize that frequently the people fielding the initial calls are drones with little authority to help you. If you push your complaint up the chain to the supervisor level, you might find your experience to be quite a bit more satisfactory.

    Some organizations do get how to handle complaints as I wrote about here: http://www.sempdx.org/blog/events/dollar-tree-best-response-to-a-customer-complaint-ever/

  19. I hate to keep coming back here but I feel like this needs to be said to drive the point home. My issue has (fingers crossed) been resolved. I haven’t said anything bad about Comcast on Twitter in at least a day. I did however just retweet something Lisa said about me and Comcast because, to be honest, Lisa mentioned me and it made me feel special!!!

    A few minutes pass and guess who hits me up??? The same person/bot that asked me if he could help a few days ago. Hmmm…no. I mean you didn’t exactly do anything the last time we talked. Obviously you don’t remember. Maybe it was the OTHER guy who hasn’t had any service for almost a month. [slams head repeatedly against desk]

    I’m seriously considering conducting a test, where I talk about Comcast on Twitter everyday for an extended period of time and see if I can build relationships with the Comcast Twitter people. My guess is everyday they will continue to ask me….

    “Can my team help you???”

  20. Sorry about sounding robotic, not usually my style. I do like to cook dinner, so I guess I would have to do it for everyone here. I can tell you culture of the organization has changed dramatically over the 2 years I have worked here. There is a focus on the experience. Do we get it right all the time? No, but we are working to learn from any of those experiences. We have improved in Customer survey results and studies like the ACSI. At the same time we have far to go. My opinion, most companies do. In terms of the 22 days to install, without reviewing the specifics, it is hard to tell. Usually it is much sooner. Number porting can delay for a week or two. I have not heard any that long, and I find it too long too.

    Frank

  21. but But BUT Lisaaaaa, they have ‘Customers’ … obviously they care a great deal if we’ve gone from little ‘c’ to big ‘C’, right? Right??

  22. @alan The difference between Comcast and Zappos is that Zappos product IS customer service. Comcast’s is not. Comcast sells a Internet/TV/Phone service that is only available from a very limited number of providers in a given community, typically one or two competitors. Zappos sells shoes that can be purchased from a variety of online and offline locations – the only thing that differentiates them is their service. The ‘pinheads in suits’ at Comcast are correct, economically they should only spend the bare minimum possible on customer service – just enough to keep them from losing subscriptions, which is what they seem to be doing. Customer Service is not their product, and their ‘product’ isn’t crap.

    None of the examples of bad service in this post and the comments end with “I canceled the service and will never do business with Comcast again”. Rebecca was billed incorrectly twice, but I don’t see where she told Comcast to stick their TV service. Evan didn’t cancel the installation after waiting 22 days. Tim still uses Comcast because Verizon is worse. This indicates to me that the product itself isn’t bad, it’s just the Customer Service aspect that is poor. If Twitter helps Comcast respond to even a few of these people, it seems to me that it makes them ‘suck less’.

  23. Bob: In most areas, Comcast (or whatever cable provider) is the only game in town. In my area the choices are Comcast, or a satellite provider. I rent, so even if my landlord would let me put up a satellite, with the inclement weather so common in my area, I’d only have service about half the time.

    I’ve had my issues with Comcast, too. I can often get two or three different responses to the same question, and for some reason every time I call to make a change to my service they somehow disconnect all of my little “goodie” packages (like sports tier).

    I just simply don’t have a choice other than to go without, and while the customer service sucks, the service itself is pretty reliable., so at least I don’t have to use them that often.

    If there was another option cable company available, I would switch, especially if it could save me some money and the service was better.

  24. I’m going to risk total flameage and say that I don’t think Comcast sucks at all. I have a shitload of bandwidth and considering that they are dealing with the general public, are pretty good at getting someone out here to look at issues that might arise. Now, granted, I hate paying $150/month for Internet + HBO + HD + DVR + DVR2…no I really hate it but considering that their infrastructure costs are somewhat high, it’s acceptable.

  25. Frank has a point… they’ve made improvements. Comcast has earned the right to a new tagline: “Comcast. We no longer suck as bad as Verizon”

    But seriously, Lisa. Fix the problems? Why? They have a monopoly in many markets, and can bully their own customers without any real pain coming back. Things have to be WAY horrible before they actually suffer financial damage. All you do here is embarrass Frank, because he chooses to work for a loser of a company. So yeah, Frank feels bad… but Comcast Doesn’t Care.

    Rebecca can make noise and get attention. And so can the next N,000 people before there’s even a blip of impact on the bottom line. You might even make the argument that fixing problems only when they become too loud is a very efficient way of dealing with customers, when you have a monopoly.

    Isn’t that what these companies really did when they shipped call centers overseas? If you want someone who can actually help you, you have to jump through a lot more hoops.

    I have a theory about big companies with good products and horrible management of their consumer marketplaces.. . like Verizon and Lenovo and Comcast and ATT. They don’t care. They have lots of lawyers to protect their business regardless of what YOU think of them.

    Which is why “Comcast Cares” is such an awesome O’Reilly Factor style tag line. It’s perfect, actually. We could also have:

    Verizon: “So what if we treat you like crap. Your phone actually works!”
    Apple: “We don’t care if you don’t like us. Everyone else does”
    ATT: “Did you say you wanted an iphone?”
    Your local Motor Vehicle Office: “Do you want a license or not?”

  26. First off, let me say that this is a phenomenal post which many companies need to read and internalize — the idea that one can fix problems through engagement alone is scary, yet very, very common.

    As a Comcast Customer this example is dead on from my own experience — lots of great talk and still the same issues. However, this shouldn’t be a rip on comcast, but rather a pointer to every company’s executive team that launching a way for customers to talk will eventually back fire or at least fail if there are underlying issues which do not get resolved. Some issues don’t change overnight and finding ways to use social, pr and other channels to show the evolution of a company that is in transition is an important thing — you can’t expect customers to overlook bad experiences but you can soften the blow by showing meaningful improvements or actions towards what they expect.

  27. When I called to cancel (again) the NBA League Pass, I had the following conversation with the Comcast rep:

    Comcast: “Thank you for calling Comcast, my name is [blah], how may I assist you today?”

    Me: “I signed up for the NBA League Pass two years ago, and last year you auto-renewed me for it and I had to spend a ridiculous amount of time canceling the service. This week I got a notice in the mail stating that I’ve been renewed for the League Pass again this year, even though I canceled it LAST YEAR.”

    Comcast: “…..sooooooo, I’m confused…do…you…want the League Pass or no?”

    Me: [stifling a mixture of laughter and curse words]: “No. I didn’t want it last year, I don’t want it this year, and I won’t want it next year, or the year after that, or the year after that.”

    They ended up (hopefully) resolving the situation over the phone (well, we’ll see once I get my next cable bill). Comcast was surprisingly mum on Twitter when I tweeted my frustration — guess they’re not always 100% quick to the social media draw.

  28. @ Bob

    You state: ” None of the examples of bad service in this post and the comments end with “I canceled the service and will never do business with Comcast again” well like has been stated – the monopolistic nature of their service prevents many people from leaving. I live in an apartment complex. The landlord does not allow satellite dishes installed. AT&T for some reason does not provide cable service to my area. I have no choice BUT Comcast if I want high speed internet and anything more than 3 local television channels.

    And like I said, Comcast feeds on the mediocrity mentality that corporate culture has instilled in consumers.

    As far as customer service not being their “product”, I disagree. Comcast offers products and support services. We pay them ever increasing monopolistic fees that pay for the signals over the cable as well as for the staff that supports those signals. Customer reps and technicians are part of that support service. And to say that the pinheads SHOULD only provide the minimum level of service to retain subscriptions based on some economic validation is just a reinforcement of the monopolistic ability they have to rationalize crappy service and why corporate America sucks. Personally, if I had the ability to switch, I would.

  29. Evan: I really fear for the Comcast rep who will be entering your home tomorrow. Also, I adore you. Really, I do. And I promise to always listen to you and not give you canned responses. :)

    Frank: Oh, c’mon, you KNOW that first response is a canned, robot answer. Let’s call a spade a spade, especially if you’re going to be brave enough to come and chat like a normal person this time. :) I’ll totally buy that the culture has changed. You guys are all over social media and you’re talking to people, which is great. But it doesn’t feel like you’re taking that too heart. Rebecca Kelley had the same issue she had a year ago. People still can’t find a way to contact you via your Web site. It’s still impossible to get someone on the phone. I don’t feel like these are complicated issues. They’re just things you’ve chosen not to do. Its great that you’re on Twitter. But what people really want is service that’s reliable and that works.

    Kim: Have you picked a place for dinner yet? :)

    Bob: I disagree. I think the service really is that bad. People don’t cancel because often they *can’t* cancel. They don’t have a choice. So even if they beat us, we still have to be happy to take what we get. Because it’s either that or family time lit by candlelight.

    John: haha, you should really go into the tagline business! Why fix the problems? Because there should be some accountability and ethics in business. That’s why! Just because you CAN treat people like shit because you’re the only game in town doesn’t mean you SHOULD or that you have a right to. That’s why.

    Ted, Becs: Thanks for sharing your personal experiences. You’ll probably be contacted by a Comcast rep shortly. :p

  30. *Bravo*

    Lisa,

    I’ve been feeling this way about Comcast for quite some time. As loyal customer having to resort to Twitter to deal with his Comcast woes over a year ago, my impressions were: “Why did I have to resort to this in the first place? Why couldn’t have this been handled correctly the first time? Why did they have to waste my time and energy in order to make something right?”

    Giving them the benefit of the doubt, they’ve had over a year to take this information, feedback, and comments found across the web, but ultimately what have they done to improve their service? I’ve had friends recently say they’ve trouble getting the installation completed. And what do they do? Get on Twitter to complain.

    You would think Comcast would focus their attention on at least having the installation process be as correct, thorough, and pain-free as possible. Once everything is setup, they start to receive payments for service and, for the most part, don’t really have to deal with customers at all.

  31. Alan: My point exactly. You want high speed Internet and more than 3 TV channels. Comcast provides that. If it was dial-up slow and the TV was fuzzy you would just cancel. If the service was down three days a week, you would cancel, or move. They are delivering you the product, it’s just their customer service you don’t like.

    I’m a Comcast subscriber for Internet access. I have other choices, but it is by far the fastest service in my area. I don’t use them for TV or Phone because I don’t like the product. My customer service experience has personally been excellent, but I have only had to contact them once or twice in the last eight years. Even if the customer service was poor I would continue to use them because the product is good. In fact, if they could lower my monthly bill by spending less on customer service I would be in favor of that.

    Lisa: Family time by candlelight is the solution to all of this country’s problems.

  32. Dead on.

    Listening to your customers and doing nothing is far worse than not listening at all. Comcast has created a terrific outlet for people (not “Customers”) to vent, to tell them what’s wrong so that they can fix it. But when people realize they aren’t fixing anything, they can quickly go from feeling frustrated to feeling helpless. It’s like using a paper shredder as a suggestion box.

    I have a lot of friends that use Comcast, but I never heard them complain about it until they started interacting with @ComcastCares. Now I see every time they have something to bitch about and how they’re continually frustrated by the same problems. Not that it’s any different with any other cable company, but at least others have the sense not to lift their skirts and expose their business to the world. Honesty can only get you so far, if the truth is you don’t give a damn.

  33. Funny you say this, because to many…the only thing you have to do to enter social media is to set up listening stations…this proves that isn’t the case. Twitter users are smart and we can see a fraud from a mile away.

    #comcastreallydoessuck

  34. Ah shit storms.

    Sorry I’m late to this one. Unfortunately I’m stuck with Comcast. Can’t do anything about it as no other service currently exists where I am at. I’d probably be getting screwed by them as well. When the internet is your crack you hate your provider…I think that’s another rule.

  35. I agree that simply using social media as a means of triage with upset customers won’t advance the engagement any further. As described, it’s a bandaid.

    However, I know Frank personally and I can vouch that he and his team are making a concerted effort to resolve concerns that people share on social media and make internal changes the best they can. What I’m saying is that Frank is not to fault. It’s the larger / stiffer customer service management team at Comcast who is largely to blame for their customer service inequalities.

    And that is where the pain is — the inequality in customer service between superior “social media response” vs. phone-based service. This problem speaks to the ignorance and possible the internal problems that Frank and his team have at actually changing the status-quo within the walls of Comcast.

    The feedback Twitter provides is unfiltered, raw, and authentic. If someone doesn’t like something, SOMEONE is going to hear about it. I can draw many correlations back to my time at a certain large ISP and how antiquated that their customer support offering was and how it wasn’t in the customers’ best interests.

    The bandaids go only so far, and must be addressed internally at a customer service management level. Frank can’t be blamed for that, he’s fighting for it.

    ~Joe

  36. Had a severely sucky Comcast experience myself more than once, including four days downtime due to installer error AFTER I reached them through Twitter. And they weren’t even out to work on our service.

    That said, I wouldn’t play down the value of what they’re doing with Twitter. Turning around issues with a giant like Comcast is like turning around an oil tanker. Having a bunch of people screaming about the sailboats you’re running over and saving as many as you can is so much better than just rolling over them blindly. And hopefully will give them something they can build better future results on.

  37. I used to work for Comcast and I will say there are definitely the ups and downs. However, when I left earlier this year, they were setting forth alot of new systems and agendas to help customer service. One of the most important things they incorporated was holding every employee accountable for their actions. I have seen many technicians and tech support representatives cause problems and get away with it, and before I left, it looked like this was slowly being changed. But just like any other huge company, it will take time. Lots of it.

  38. I just had an issue with Verizon where they ran me around for a month, and within a week of contacting them on Twitter, my issue was resolved. The sad part is, of all the phone reps I tried before Twitter, only one person was capable of helping before I accidentally hung up on them. Customer service needs better training everywhere.

    @ChrisHyacinthe

  39. Turning around issues with a giant like Comcast is like turning around an oil tanker. Having a bunch of people screaming about the sailboats you’re running over and saving as many as you can is so much better than just rolling over them blindly. And hopefully will give

    I agree that Comcast has to start somewhere. The fact that they responded immediately to this post suggests that they are taking proactive steps to work with their customers and respond to issues discussed on the web.

    Although I know that many people have been dissatisfied with Comcast I have to say that I have used their services for over ten years in the metro Detroit area and have always had great service and solid customer support. Maybe I am an isolated case, but I really have had no complaint with them.

  40. For broadband we only have Comcast here. They went around in the 70s/80s (I forget which) and signed open ended agreements in many markets for broadband exclusivity. We can have other options but not other broadband options.

    I’ve had good and bad experiences with them since the mid 90s in various markets. Sadly more bad than good. There was this one awesome salesman who worked very hard to drop our bill down after my dad died. He crunched and crunched and knocked over $60 off the monthly bill and we only lost a few channels.

    SADLY the internet service here is spottiest on the weekends (high demand) but the digital TV service is pretty reliable although it goes down too but not as often. I’ve had 4 techs out in the past month and asked them each time for a new modem, they refused. The last one I demanded replace it since the previous ones saw nothing wrong although it was over 4 years old. Most weekends the modem switches to a router IP and I have no connectivity until it cycles through “disconnects” (complete with red X in the LAN icon) and restores the normal IP. This has taken minutes to over 24 hours in one instance. I’ve done all the normal things but they still can’t figure it out. It is happening in their equipment, not mine. I’ve replaced cables, moved the computer, and now replaced the modem. It’s still happening but less than before. Do I call them every time? I was. I didn’t call them the two times it happened this weekend because I’m tired of the condescending attitude of the techs. The account is well documented that this is an ongoing issue yet it’s not much better.

    The techs who come to the house can be funny, and candid. Some have been fully clueless. Our local office seems to be poorly managed though. Most times the tech arrives without paperwork, having written down his stops on the NCR paper rather than it being printed out. So he doesn’t get all the information in his hand for the call and relies on me to remember it rather than having it in his hand from the phone call when I scheduled the visit. ALSO for the high rates we pay (albeit less thanks to that awesome salesman) none of the cables in our area have been replaced. They’re all still above ground, exposed to the weather and worn from years of exposure to extreme temps. One phone tech diagnosed the problem to temperature variance and squirrels. Yes, he said squirrels. They tend to like the wiring for a light snack.

    The awesome salesman made me laugh when he admitted that they’re only in it to bring up their bottom line, not to help the customer. But he was a rebel and worked hard to help us get into an amount we could afford rather than try to sell us things we wouldn’t use. I appreciated the honesty and the extra mile.

    Yes they’re doing better in some things. Being honest with the customer MUST come first. Don’t condescend. Most of us with ongoing problems don’t need your tech script. In fact we know it by heart and could probably write a better one for you. I must hand it to them lately though, they’re not as wooden, the people who do the phone response speak clear English (unlike Alltel service) and they are more ‘human’ than before. I find that is usually after I’ve gone through the first line of support into the second line of help though. First line are all scripted and somewhat wooden with few exceptions. And many of them disconnect the calls when transferring to 2nd line. It’d be funny if it wasn’t usually when I was frustrated already after waiting 10-15 minutes for the call to be answered.

    If we had another option we’d switch. They may be improving but it’s to little too late in my book. Their excuses ran out long ago. The rates we pay are WAY too high for them having a monopoly in most parts of the country.

    Sorry for the length but I had more to say as I went on. Thanks for an awesome article and Frank, good to know you’re listening. Accounting listens too each time I ask for a credit. One woman even gave us two free OnDemand movies which we haven’t used yet. Yes, you’re improving. Is it enough? After over 20 years of iffy service I don’t know.

  41. Lisa,

    The Comcast tech is safe. He was awesome and worked very hard to fix whatever the hell was wrong at my place. I am online and watching TV at the same time and nobody can stop me! [ chest bumps the Comcast tech ] YES!!!!

  42. Evan: Aw, glad to see things are now up and running smoothly. We encourage you to spend the day seated on the couch, watching TV, and cruising Outspoken. :)

  43. Lisa, cooking dinner isn’t an apology…buy jewelry is an apology. Cooking dinner is just because some of us know how to cook and even like to do it, like Graywolf.

    As for Comcast, they have gotten much better at responding to customers because the conversation is in the open. Comcast cares…about what we say about them were others can read it. In there defense, it actually takes a long time to make changes at an organization of their size and even longer when you have no competition and actually having good service is expensive.

    John, the best tagline I ever came up with was for an online printing company I worked for, one that had relatively low end equipment: “Good Enough For Most Of Your Stuff”

    I don’t know why management wouldn’t let us go with that one.

  44. There are A LOT of businesses trying to elbow their way into social media right now. We get people contacting us every day asking for social media and ORM strategies to help put out the fires that ignite around them.

    Valuable points and I too making use of twitter for my business.

  45. Hi Lisa, I very much enjoyed the post and very happy to see some reasonable points. Twitter is been amazing in developing my business and I am getting some decent amount of customers.

  46. Wow that customer care agent for Comcast does sound so robotic. I work for DISH Network and our number one is the customers and we try to relate to all of them. We have been rated #1 in customer satisfaction among all TV providers for 10 years in a row. I think related to the customers problems and thinking “what if I was in their shoes” helps a lot with that.

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