Mismatched Performance Management, Training, Comp, + Culture Matter, Comcast

I hate calling the cable company. Nothing is ever handled in less than a 60 minute phone call, you always end up in a battle royale with the automated system, you end up repeating your issue no less that 49 times, and after all that they put you on hold for 9 minutes and then the call gets dropped. I’m not jaded… The latest internet buzz is about Ryan Block’s attempt to cancel his Comcast service. He was smart and recorded the call. Here it is if you’re interested:   I listened to the entire clip – which was not easy because the Comcast employee’s behavior is not that different from the other folks that I’ve dealt with (at Comcast, and other cable companies) so I was feeling Ryan frustration. The frustration is misplaced though, because that employee is only doing what he’s been trained and rewarded to do. If this employee was an anomaly, a lone wolf running rampant in one of Comcast’s call centers… people wouldn’t have commiserated quite as well with Ryan Block. Way too many people have been on similar calls in Ryan’s shoes for this employee to be the one charlatan. Here’s a screenshot of the comments from YouTube: Youtube Replies But that’s not what Comcast’s SVP of Customer Experience, Tom Karinshak, would have you believe. Here’s the statement he released:

“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.”

The exec has one thing right — it deserves an apology (a speedy one at that) and isn’t acceptable. But here’s what it’s missing:

  • Not consistent with how you train your customer service reps? If that’s not what your official training protocol recommends directly or indirectly, then you need to examine how you’re training your trainers.
  • The way your compensating customer service reps is probably too heavily weighted on metrics — if you’re customers’ experience feels like a hostage crisis, it’s time to reconsider.I love a good metric – but pure metrics aren’t everything. Here’s a great example of a role that definitely is a good candidate for the use of a hard metric and some manager observation in their goal setting and performance management systems.
  • Comcast needs to evaluate it’s culture. It’s a business and it’s about bringing in cash, but they seem to be forgetting that their customers are more than an automatic debit. Even if Comcast is including some manager observation in the goal setting and performance management of its customer service reps, if the culture has ingrained crap values in the managers… garbage in, garbage out.
  • That employee isn’t an anomaly

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