Comcast Massive Fail: Who’s to Blame?

Cable company rep bullys Customer trying to cancel service – A Comcast Customer service representative makes it almost impossible for a Customer to cancel his cable service. The Customer, who recorded the call midway through, is harassed and scolded for nearly 10 minutes by the rep. This story has exploded all over the Internet and received national media attention. Listen to the recorded call yourself.

SVP of Customer Experience issues apology – Trying to do damage control, Tom Karinshak, the Senior Vice President of Customer Experience for Comcast, issued an immediate apology, which was posted on Comcast’s website:

“We are very embarrassed by the way our employee spoke with Mr. Block and are contacting him to personally apologize. The way in which our representative communicated with him 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.”

The employee is not to blame – Everyone is blaming the Comcast employee for being relentless, rude and literally not letting the Customer disconnect his service. Even Karinshak’s apology throws the employee under the bus, “The way in which our representative communicated with him is unacceptable and not consistent with how we train our Customer service representatives.” However, this is not an isolated issue of a front-line employee having low service aptitude. First off, Comcast was ranked the second worst company on the Customer Service Hall of Shame list for 2014; that right there contradicts Karinshak’s claim that their goal is to “always treat our Customers with the utmost respect.” Secondly, Comcast trains their employees to do what this employee did.

Comcast Reps’ pay based on not letting Customers cancel – I love Jeff Toister’s take in his article titled, “Comcast Botches Service Failure Apology,” where he says, “This service failure wasn’t the employee’s fault. He was doing his job exactly the way Comcast designed it. Heck, he should probably win employee of the month.” Toister also points out:

  • These Customer service reps are called Retention Specialists. As the job title implies, their role is to convince Customers not to cancel their accounts.
  • Retention Specialists receive incentive pay based on the amount of business they save by discouraging Customers not to cancel.
  • If a certain percentage of Customers still decide to cancel their service, a Retention Specialist’s bonus will go to zero.

So who’s to blame? Comcast’s entire cancellation process is intentionally designed to be very difficult. Service aptitude starts at the top! When you look at world-class Customer service companies, you can always, always see why — their leader is obsessed with the Customer experience. Try finding an interview with Richard Branson, Howard Schultz, Walt Disney, or Steve Jobs where they don’t talk about the Customer experience. They were fanatical. Look at the companies with the worst Customer service, it usually points back to the lack of service aptitude their leader has, which means little executive sponsorship towards Customer service, no training, and virtually zero service aptitude at the front line.


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About The Author

John DiJulius

John R. DiJulius is a best-selling author, consultant, keynote speaker and President of The DiJulius Group, the leading Customer experience consulting firm in the nation. He blogs on Customer experience trends and best practices.