Memo to Comcast's Charlie Herrin: Do This One Thing

When Comcast named Charlie Herrin as the company's new senior VP of customer experience, I started piecing together this blog in my head. I could write another lengthy list outlining all the things wrong with Comcast customer service. Instead, I have a pretty simple piece of advice for Charlie Herrin. It goes something like this...

Dear Charlie,

Before you do anything else, please do this simple business exercise:

  • Visit Megan McAvaney -- a retail sales consultant in your Summerfield, Fla., offices. All Comcast support employees should see, hear and learn from McAvaney's professional approach.
  • Then, listen in on your own phone support lines. I'm sure you do. But are you really "hearing" the conversations?
  • Then, compare the two experiences.

I'll give you my own simple -- but painful -- experience:

1. Comcast Phone Service & Support: I suspect your team receives incentives to cross-sell, up-sell and retain customers -- even customers who are calling in with complaints about Comcast service. Even worse, your customer support and sales support lines don't have integrated databases. For instance, I had a simple request for Comcast's phone support folks: Take my existing triple play contract (phone, voice, internet) from Property A and replicate that exact same agreement to Property B. The Comcast response: "Sorry, we can't see what type of Comcast service you have on Property A. We can only offer you a new package. Can we walk you through those options?" Um, no. Goodbye.

2. Comcast Face to Face Support: My experience dealing with Megan McAvaney, a retail sales consultant, was far superior. Frustrated with your phone support -- which was dropping/disconnecting calls in August -- I visited a Comcast office to return my equipment and cancel service. That's when I met McAvaney. She politely asked me about my issues, wrote them down, then handed me her business card with actual, direct contact information.

McAvaney assured me that I could personally reach out to her should I ever have a question for Comcast in the future. My reaction to that August 2014 office visit:  It's as if your lousy phone support model and your good branch office model are different companies.

Fast forward to this week (Oct. 2014): I decided to take another chance with Comcast... purely because of my experience speaking with McAvaney. In about 10 minutes time, she replicated all of my information from Property A to Property B. Three days later, a Comcast technician did the install -- and all seems fine (though I'll be sure to check the bill closely...).

My advice to you, Mr. Herrin: Empower Comcast's sales and support people with the right compensation packages and rewards. Reward employees for delivering customer service instead of making the cross sell/upsell model your top priority. Short term, you may lose some of that up-sell revenue. But long term, I bet you'll (A) improve your customer retention rates, which (B) ultimately lifts your long term profits. In other words, you'll achieve your profit goals through better service, rather than confusing sales tactics.

Oh, That Action Item

Oops. I noticed this blog did turn into a rant of sorts. So let me reiterate my key point: Visit Megan McAvaney and her office. See and experience her day-to-day, face-to-face approach to customer service. Then figure out how to replicate that model on your phone support lines.

Simple, right? Hmmm...