Customer Service (Culture) Fail

Yet another story of terrible customer service.  A straight-forward request by phone to cancel cable service and a customer service representative not taking no for an answer.  Clearly a rouge employee. The company apologizes and will look into it.

This past week you may have read about or even listened to the terrible service provided to Ryan Block when he called Comcast Cable with a request to cancel his service.  It made the news because Ryan recorded the call and posted to the internet.  I added the YouTube video below if you care to listen. Maybe you do not need to listen because you were once in Ryan’s shoes and received the same level of customer service.

I was. Actually my wife made the call last year to Comcast to cancel our service. Luckily, much like Ryan, we have another Cable service to choose from at a better price.  The call was very similar with the rep from Comcast not taking no for an answer.  He eventually went so far as to say, “Maybe we should wait until your husband gets home and I can talk to him.”  For those who know my wife … well that went over very well.

I thought it then and I think about it again now – Comcast has no idea of how badly they must be reinforcing the wrong behaviors with these frontline employees.  Then again, maybe the fully do know and with their near monopoly, do not care.  It must work to turn around some customers short-term. It is a house of cards though and the world is changing.

With the viral nature of Ryan Block’s internet post in mind, Comcast had to respond publicly and oh so typically for a large organization caught with its pants down:

“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.”

The response from Ryan Block caught my eye and is the reason I wanted to post on this topic.

“I hope the quick action you take is a thorough evaluation of your culture and policies, and not the termination of the rep.”

Yes indeed.

I have little doubt that the content of the customer service training at Comcast is very good. The issue is once those employees head back to their cubicles, how does the company reinforce and reward the right behaviors.

As a start the large and traditional organizations may want to look to the new breed of company:

“To make customers happy, we have to make sure our employees are happy first.” Zappos

“We will never—and I mean never—turn our backs on our employees.” Howard Schultz, Starbucks

For leaders in organizations, your culture is permanently on your short list.  Forget Comcast as, once again, they may know exactly what they are doing to pressure customers to stay.  My concern is you and your organization. How is your culture today?

And I thought that Anthropology Degree was an odd entry to the business world…

What do you think?

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