Customer Experience News & Trends

These 2 companies’ service stinks: What have they taught us?

Two companies notorious for bad service recently promised the United States Senate and their customers they’d do better. What they’re about to do can help every company improve the customer experience.

Comcast and Charter Communications stand out as two of the poorest customer service providers in an industry that is already considered one of the lowest-rated for customer satisfaction.

So the U.S. Senate called them to task, asking top level executives to testify recently on the changes that they plan to make that will improve customer experiences across the industry.

The problems

Comcast and other pay-TV operators were called out for making it difficult — sometimes impossible — for customers to downgrade or cancel services. They’re also accused of hiding fees that raise prices above advertised rates.

Charter has been accused of overcharging customers for equipment and service. That’s left customers upset for years, with many wanting to switch providers but being forced to keep Charter because it’s the only provider in their area.

Both companies have pledged to do better. Here are some of their plans — and how you can use their:

1. Say it, do it

One of Comcast’s biggest leaps is a Customer Bill of Rights, which Senior VP of customer service Tom Karinshak told the Senate documents the core principles guiding Comcast’s customer service revamp.

It includes:

  • Investing in Training and Technology for all Employees
  • Giving All Customers Access to Products and Services that Work Best For Them
  • Ensuring a Fair Price for All of Our Customers
  • Being on Time and Minimizing Wait Time, All the Time
  • Giving Customers Control over Their Comcast Experience by Enabling Self Service Whenever Possible
  • Keeping Bills Simple and Transparent
  • Reassessing Policies and Fees That Frustrate Customers
  • Crediting Customers Proactively for Outages and Billing Errors
  • Allowing Customers to End Their Service Without a Hassle, and
  • Measuring Our Employees on Customer Satisfaction.

The key: Make customers aware of any guiding principles your organization has — and then encourage them to call employees or processes out for not living up to them.

2. Train for the times

Comcast has been blasted on social media for not allowing customers to cancel service. Customers have recorded the difficult conversations and let them go viral.

In response, Comcast has changed guidelines for reps who take cancellation requests and trained them to make the process easier.

The key: Rules and processes must change as customer needs change. You can’t wait to be called out on social media or for the government to step in to make changes that customers are demanding.

3. Make service easier

Comcast didn’t stop at changing the process and training to fix its biggest black eye. It’s taken a bigger step to help customers get the service they want as quickly as possible.

In a pilot program, Karinshak said they’re allowing customers to cancel service online — an option that wasn’t available at all previously. Customers can log on, make the cancellation request and receive a follow up call from a customer service rep to confirm and complete the request.

The key: Customers take the path of least resistance. They’ll stick with you if you make it easy for them to handle any service they want in the way they want to do it.

4. Adapt and empower

Part of the problems customers often encountered over the years with Comcast were strict guidelines that restricted how service pros did their jobs and their range of power to help customers.

Comcast recently eased up the reigns in some cases, doubling the number of days customers have to dispute an issue and giving reps the authority to issue credit and handle some situations in the ways they see fit.

The key: Frequently train employees so they’re equipped to make decisions that work for the company and customers.

5. Add resources where customers need them

Comcast recently added more than 100 employees to handle complaints on social media. That’s a realistic response to a growing service channel that won’t go away.

The key: Customers will still call and email, but every organization needs to devote at least a little more resources to social media.

6. Give everyone skin in the game

At Comcast, pay plans for nearly everyone from front-line employees to top executives now depend somewhat on customer satisfaction scores. Now everyone has some skin in the game.

The key: Employees need to know how they’re performance will be measured and judged if some of their pay depends on a new metric focused on customer satisfaction.

7. Check and control quality daily

At Charter, they’re checking reports and customer activity every day to catch billing mistakes. That will allow them to correct issues before they pile up and become the large issue that has put them in their current state.

The key: Vigilant oversight on issues that are most important to customers — billing, problem resolution, on-time delivery, etc. — will improve satisfaction.

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  • Donald LaPlante

    Gee…that all sounds good, but I wouldn’t believe A SINGLE WORD either of those companies say or my miserable provider of internet, Frontier Communications. Poor customer service IS THEIR CORPORATE CULTURE. Now my UPS driver, Victor, on the other hand knows my name and remembers I’m a Red Sox fan…