Comcast promises quick action against scapegoat

After this audio recording of an infuriatingly aggressive Comcast representative arguing with a customer went mega-viral, Comcast, which instructs its employees not to take no for an answer, is now throwing its representative under the bus because he refused to take no for an answer.

Here's Comcast's statement:

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.

As one commenter on the Comcast site observed:

Anyone with a modicum of compassion feels for your rep as much as they do for the customer. Certainly any cancellation works against some performance metric which will aim to objectively quantify or analyze a human interaction (in the least human way possible) on some fiscal report, tacking the loss of this customer on the rep that couldn't retain said customer's business.

I agree with this commenter. There's a reason the customer service representative sounded so desperate on the recording, and it's not because he enjoys being an asshole. It's because Comcast has made it clear that his job is on the line if he can't retain subscribers.

(Thanks, Matthew!)

Notable Replies

  1. JonS says:

    "We are very embarrassed by the way our employee spoke with Mr. Block and Ms. Belmont and are contacting them to personally apologize."

    read as: we're embarrased this kind of thing has finally become public.

    "The way in which our representative communicated with them is unacceptable and not consistent with how we train our customer service representatives."

    read as: it is unacceptable this CSR was unable to retian their business when our training guidelines clearly stipulate that customers are not to be released, no matter what. Clearly this CSR has strayed from the training guidelines.

    "We are investigating this situation and will take quick action."

    read as: By the end of today our remaining CSRs will be left with no confusion as to whether it is acceptable to release a customer. (Spoiler: It isn't.)

    "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."

    read as: The beatings will continue until morale improves.

  2. While this rep probably crossed a line that even Comcast's own training guidelines ostensibly prohibit, his behavior does not exist in a vacuum.

    There is probably a "leaderboard" somewhere in his cube farm where agents with the highest retention rates are named and their competition tracked.

    At monthly meetings, the agent who has achieved the very highest retention rates is recognized, lauded, and rewarded.

    Agents whose retention rate is too low are given extra-training, poor performance reviews, and are eventually shown the door if they don't get with the program.

    No agent is ever censured for having too high a retention rate.

    Now balance that against what the company says its policy is about the aggressiveness of retention representatives.

    I'm not saying the guy didn't act like a jerk; he may (possibly) be predisposed to such behavior by his character. I don't know him personally, so I can't judge his character at all.

    But Comcast's corporate culture created the monster we listened to in that recording.

  3. The reply needs to be something like:

    "We instruct our representatives to try and determine the root cause of a departure, as we often find that these issues represent correctable concerns. We've clearly pushed this culture too far, and will be retraining staff in the future, and moving compensation away from, determining this information."

    What do you think the chances are that we'd see this? Near 0% I'd wager.

  4. xzzy says:

    I guess the lesson here is that to trigger real change, everyone who calls Comcast should record their call and upload the results to the internet. Only when they start firing everyone in some misguided effort to make it look like Comcast cares will they maybe realize the problem isn't individuals, it's the culture of the whole corporation.

    It's bullshit that we live in a world where customers have to fight to be treated like humans, but considering Comcast isn't going to disappear and will in all likelyhood only get bigger and more pervasive I'm not sure what other option exists.

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