Jeff Kagan: Comcast Gives Self Black Eye with Poor Customer Service

Jeff Kagan |

Comcast poor customer service, comcast cancel service, comcast investors, comcast digital

Why does Comcast (CMCSA) keep punching themselves in the gut with poor customer service? With competition increasing and new choices popping up all the time, they should be trying to improve customer relations. Instead they are embarrassed by a customer care representative that simply won’t do as the customer asks and cancel service.

Is this any way to win in an increasingly competitive playing field? This customer service disaster was recorded by the customer and went viral this week. This real life scenario will hurt Comcast in their efforts to improve service and customer relations.

The problem is Comcast – along with the entire cable television space – has a well earned, lousy customer care reputation. Faced with new competitors, new technology and innovation the industry continues to lose customers and market share.

That’s why the entire industry has embarked on an effort to improve their customer relations. Smart, since that’s exactly what they need to do in order to remain competitive and viable going forward.

Is it working? I have noticed an improvement over the last few years; however that improvement is only marginal. It is not strong enough and they have not done it long enough to make an impression on the customer yet.

This is the customer service time bomb they are trying to disarm now that it suits them. The bomb the industry created itself by not caring about the customer.

The problem is it takes a quantum leap improvement over an extended period of time, and efforts to date are simply not there yet.

I do believe if they continue this, they will improve over the course of the next decade, but that’s a long time. And until then, these customer service disasters only reinforce the poor reputation in the customers mind.

An apology from an embarrassed Comcast corporate headquarters is helpful. It’s better than ignoring this disaster. But it’s not enough.

Real improvement in service and reliability and pricing is what will turn the tide. And that, while better, is still a long way from being good… forget about excellent.

Digital Switch Still Hurting Customer Relations

Another recent problem is their transformation from analog to digital network design. This caused customers to have to lease monthly boxes for every television so they can watch TV. That increased customer costs.

Often one or more of these boxes simply lose signal. You then have to call customer service and they walk through a series of steps and often get you back online.

This problem is new and occurs on a regular basis. It causes affected customers to call Comcast time after time.

To the customer this says that Comcast is more concerned with making their investors happy than their customers. This may be good if you are investor in Comcast, but not so good if you are a customer.

Customer care reps always seem to be good natured and helpful. This is welcomed since customers often call with an attitude since this kind of problem keeps occurring. However a good attitude does not solve the problem.

Neither does PR. They run television advertising to improve their image with the customer. One TV commercial shows a ticked off customer with a Comcast service rep in a Comcast van. It starts with the customer hating Comcast customer service, but ends 30 seconds later ends with him changing his mind because of what the Comcast rep says.

If only life were that simple. The problem is after that commercial the customer still must deal with regular outages from one or more of their converter boxes on an ongoing basis.

Time Warner Cable (TWC) made the same switch from analog to digital. And customers have the same problem with the converter boxes.

However at least Time Warner Cable left their analog signal on so customers with service problems could at least fall back on a service that worked.

Comcast didn’t. Comcast turned off their analog signal forcing their customers to deal with regular service outages.

This is the difference between a company that only focuses on the investor like Comcast, and another company who focuses on both the customer and the investor like Time Warner Cable.

Cable: Take a Cue From Southwest Airlines

Fortune Magazine called Herb Kelleher, past CEO of Southwest Airlines (LUV) the best CEO in America. One thing Kelleher was famous for saying was simple. Take good care of your workers and they will take good care of your customers. Then the investors will be happy.

That makes so much sense if the cable television industry will just listen and learn.

Comcast does offer fast Internet service, but they also have many service problems to deal with. If Comcast is successful with their Time Warner Cable acquisition, customers will have to learn to deal with these problems as well.

Cable television is an industry we have all grown up with. They never faced competition before so they never cared whether the customer was happy. They only focused on the investor.

However, now that the industry is being challenged by new thinking, new competitors and innovation, the cable television industry had better start focusing on improving customer care or else it will turn around and bite them in the real end. Just like this embarrassing customer service disaster.

 

DISCLOSURE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not represent the views of equities.com. Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions. To read our full disclosure, please go to: http://www.equities.com/disclaimer

Companies

Symbol Name Price Change % Volume
TWC Time Warner Cable Inc n/a n/a n/a 0
LUV Southwest Airlines Company 49.85 2.17 4.55 7,738,753
CMCSA Comcast Corporation Class A Common Stock 69.33 0.63 0.92 10,549,399
RST:APH Rosita Mining Corporation n/a n/a n/a n/a

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