Worst. Company. Ever.
That’s the title Comcast earned after a series of negative customer service public debacles that were posted on the Internet during the past few years.
In 2004 and 2007, the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) survey found that Comcast had the worst customer satisfaction rating of any company or government agency in the country, including the Internal Revenue Service. The ACSI indicates that almost half of all cable customers (regardless of company) have registered complaints, and that cable is the only industry to score below 60 in the ACSI (Criticism of Comcast).
In addition, the Consumer affairs blog The Consumerist named Comcast the “Worst Company in America” in 2010 and 2014. The company received the “Golden Poo” award to its Philadelphia headquarters in commemoration of the victory. The company also finished in the top three in 2008, 2009, 2011, and 2013. Since 2006, it has received more Golden, Silver and Bronze awards for poor customer service performance than any other company in the country, including Wal-Mart, Bank of America, and Ticketmaster (Criticism of Comcast).
From here, microsites and social media posts have popped up denouncing Comcast and its deplorable customer service. “The Internet is filled with sites — like ComcastMustDie.com, ComCraptic.com and ComcastSucks.org — dedicated to the company. Comcast customer Brian Finkelstein’s video of one of its technicians sleeping on his couch has been watched more than a million times on YouTube” (Huffington Post).
Consider the following examples of bad customer service examples that have been posted to social media sites:
- Man’s Nightmare Call With Comcast Service Rep Goes Viral
We are very embarrassed by the way our employee spoke with Mr. Block and Ms. Belmont and are contacting them to personally apologize. The way in which our representative communicated with them is unacceptable and not consistent with how we train our customer service representatives. We are investigating this situation and will take quick action. While the overwhelming majority of our employees work very hard to do the right thing every day, we are using this very unfortunate experience to reinforce how important it is to always treat our customers with the utmost respect.
- Then in 2015 (roughly two weeks ago), the latest Comcast debacle – Comcast Changed Customer’s Name to “A**hole Brown” But Is Totally Sorry
- Comcast responded with the following statement:
We have spoken with our customer and apologized for this completely unacceptable and inappropriate name change. We have zero tolerance for this type of disrespectful behavior and are conducting a thorough investigation to determine what happened. We are working with our customer to make this right and will take appropriate steps to prevent this from happening again.
After the couple’s experience was made public, Comcast offered a full refund for the past two years of service as well as two additional years at no extra charge.
However, Comcast has made efforts to improve customer satisfaction, including creating the Comcast Cares Digital Team. The Comcast Cares Digital Team began when then Customer Service Manager Frank Eliason leveraged Twitter as a way to communicate with customers. In 2010, @ComcastBonnie won the Customer Service category at the 2010 Shorty Awards. It also created Comcast Voices – an open site, managed by Comcast where consumers can engage with the company. The site offered this description of this service:
Everyone from product managers and programmers to business unit leaders and technical specialists will discuss news, change at our company, and our thoughts on what’s important in our industry. We look forward to our conversations, and welcome your feedback
In reviewing Comcast’s responses to customer service issues, the company demonstrates key learnings from lecture and previous readings; including:
- Replied swiftly to the issue
- Showed they are listening by describing the event
- Be Human – acknowledge they were in the wrong or the employee’s behavior was wrong
- Showed empathy – apologized for the poor customer service, offered
I don’t know how I feel about following up publically. On one hand I acknowledge it’s important to show you’re monitoring the situation, but is it worth bringing up bad or negative publicity again?
If I was managing Comcast’s social media response or crisis and issues management team, I would have taken the following actions:
- Execute on social media crisis plan (which would have been established well in advance). I make a point of having this as my first step because I don’t know if Comcast had a social media strategy or crisis plan in place.
- Engage customers on social media – twitter, facebook, etc. proactive and reactive messaging
- Create an internal site where to post Comcast messaging, etc. – and to serve as an anchor/landing page for the other social media sites.
- Establish senior leadership support and endorsement for fixing this customer service issue.
- Conduct our own internal research – both for employees and customers (since employees seem to be at the center of this customer service brakedown).
- From this study, announce change in customer service policy:
- Create customer service bounty system or a customer satisfaction guarantee – like Allstate Insurance with its Claim Satisfaction Guarantee.
- After a few months, follow-up with a new study or leverage third-party industry studies and publicize the findings
But the damage is done and continues to spread… is the end in sight for Comcast?
- Is Comcast’s reputation so tarnished that it can’t be saved? Is there a chance to reboot or fix this reputation? Can it?
- What do you think of Comcast’s response and how it handled these issues? Would you have done anything different or is there something missing that you would have added?
- Does the Comcast situation remind you of any other customer service / social media issues and how did the company handle it?