When Ryan Block tried to cancel his Comcast service, he ran into a customer interaction from hell. The call was so bad that he recorded part of it and posted it online. The insanity of the conversation has driven it viral.
My take: I don’t think that the problem is a mis-trained rep, which is what Comcast claimed in its official response. Block is one of many, many people who have suffered through painful interactions with Comcast. The company “earned” the bottom two spots in the 2014 Temkin Customer Service Ratings, falling well below 231 other organizations. This type of pervasive problem stems from systemic issues, not from how a specific rep behaves.
While Comcast is the worst offender, bad customer service is an epidemic across the entire telecom sector, especially in TV service and Internet service. So Comcast is merely the worst of a bad bunch.
The problem with the firms in these industries is that most of them grew up with geographic monopoly power. Without any viable competitors, their operating cultures focused on exploiting customers, not on satisfying them. As competition increased, they reacted poorly by starting a frenzy to acquire new customers and then doing whatever they can to entrap those customers.
Here are three recommendations for the entire telecom industry:
- Reward customer loyalty, not disloyalty. Any company that provides better pricing and service for new customers than it does for existing customers is institutionalizing disloyalty. Stop this practice. Focus more on holding on to good, loyal customers than pining for new customers. Sales from new customers might decline in the short-run, but the increase in retention and word of mouth will improve the business in the long-run. This revised focus will align internal incentives with a focus on improving customer experience.
- Build CX competencies, not a new veneer. The experiences that customers see are a reflection of how the company operates. So improving and sustaining good customer experience will requires organizations to build four CX core competencies: Purposeful Leadership, Employee Engagement, Compelling Brand Values, and Customer Connectedness. Want to know how you’re company is doing? Complete Temkin Group’s CX Competency & Maturity Assessment and compare your results to our benchmark of large organizations.
- Benchmark yourself against CX leaders, not each other. If telecom companies compare themselves to each other, then they don’t look too bad. Comcast is only marginally worse than Time Warner Cable or Charter Communications. Stop fooling yourself. It’s not good enough to be better than your peers, they’re also pretty bad. Set your sites on delivering customer service like USAA and Amazon.com.
The bottom line: Telecom firms need to build loyalty, not acquire customers.