Comcast’s Crisis Management for Name-Calling on Bills

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    Or rather, lack thereof

    Comcast, already one of the most hated companies in the world, drew yet more (well-deserved) vitriol early this month after it was revealed that customers were having the names on their accounts changed to things like “a-hole”, “whore”, “dummy”, and “super bitch”, most likely by angry phone reps. The first of these incidents came to light in late January on the blog of consumer report Chris Elliott, and here’s Comcast’s response:

    It’s a privilege to have customers use our products and to have them invite us into their homes. Each and every customer deserves to be treated with respect, and in a recent situation with a customer in Spokane that clearly didn’t happen.

    We have apologized to our customer for this unacceptable situation and addressed it directly with the employee who will no longer be working on behalf of Comcast. We’re also looking at a number of technical solutions that would prevent it from happening moving forward.

    We took this opportunity to reinforce with each employee just how important respect is to our culture. In every interaction we have with a customer, we need to show them respect, patience, and enthusiasm to provide them with an excellent experience.

    The culture of a company is the collective habits of its people – we have great people at Comcast and we need to treat customers with the respect they deserve. Respect is not just how we speak with customers, but also respect for their time and making it much easier for them to interact with us … whether it’s solving a problem, ordering service or simply asking a question.

    We’re working hard to transform the customer experience and all of our employees play an important role in making that happen. We’ll take every opportunity to learn from our mistakes and fix issues to make their experience better.

    Since then several more cases have come to light, making the above statement’s angle of the name-calling being limited to one disgruntled employee, as well as the promise to reinforce with employees how important respect is, seem disingenuous at best. Elliot did manage to get a brief statement from Comcast’s senior VP of customer service, who shared the following:

    “We’re retraining our teams on the importance of making name changes properly,” he said. “We’re looking for automated solutions to prevent this from happening in the future.”

    Comcast says it will follow up with each customer, offer an apology and “do whatever it takes to make things right,” says Karinshak.

    That Comcast’s Vice President of customer service is viewing this as a problem fixable through automation tells you all you need to know. The company culture at the cable giant is clearly sick, and they’re busy treating the symptoms instead of the cause. With major threats like Google Fiber looming, Comcast needs to hop on the crisis management wagon quickly, or it could very well find itself nothing more than a bad memory in its customers’ past down the road.

    For more resources, see the Free Management Library topic: Crisis Management

    [Jonathan Bernstein is president of Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc., an international crisis management consultancy, author of Manager’s Guide to Crisis Management and Keeping the Wolves at Bay – Media Training. Erik Bernstein is Social Media Manager for the firm, and also editor of its newsletter, Crisis Manager]

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