Why We Shouldn’t Blame the Comcast Rep


A Comcast customer service representative was publicly embarrassed when a customer posted an eight-minute audio of his exchange with the representative who badgered the customer for a reason why he wanted to cancel his service. While most of the commentary has been on the terrible service of the representative, Frances Frei, professor at Harvard Business School, steps back to ask the question of whether Comcast’s performance metrics for its representatives enabled the caustic treatment of that customer.

More here at HBR:

Imagine if I told you that I am the leader of a company and am telling people that customer retention is the future, that it’s the salvation of our organization. I fire up the troops and say, “We are the best and no one should rationally want to leave us. The only thing you have to do is to help people understand we are the best. You have all the facts at your disposal, we are going to give you incentives. I know you can do it – you can turn anyone.”

This results in everyone thinking they are better at their jobs when they turn a customer.

When I listen to this thing, I hear a guy really trying to please his bosses. …

I would measure on the question, are these customers likely to be ambassadors for our organization at the end of the phone call? That would be the only measure.  I am sure it would get more retention than their current system does.

In other words, Comcast needs to measure “how” a customer was treated and felt, not just “how many” customers it kept or lost.


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