The ongoing Comcast saga

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I blogged and tweeted about issues with Comcast and Vonage. Comcast responded via twitter, tested my line, found a problem, and said they needed to get a tech out. When the tech called, he tried to sell me Comcast voice service instead.

So now you’re all caught up.

Frank Eliason (@comcastcares on Twitter) followed up on the issue and found the rep that called had a different story. You don’t say. My notes—typos and all—from all my calls with Comcast thus far are after the jump below.

Frank managed to get someone to call me back. It was the same guy who had called that morning and tried to get me to switch to Comcast Voice. This time, however, he was much more professional and simply arranged an appointment. A Comcast tech would be at my house this morning between 8am and 10am. Al the Comcast rep told me that they’d be calling in the morning to confirm and that I needed to answer the call or they wouldn’t come.

At 8:30, caller ID announced an incoming call from 866-Comcast. I answered on the second ring and was greeted with the click of the caller hanging up. At 10am I tweeted my disappointment.

Within minutes, I had a reply from @comcastbill offering to look into the problem. Nice, they’re monitoring Twitter for mentions of Comcast. An hour later, I’d still heard nothing from Comcast and left to run some errands. When I got back a little after 1pm, I sent a tweet to @comcastbill and asked what was going on.

Bill had earlier escalated to some managers, but this didn’t elicit any responses. So after my second inquiry, he emailed a Comcast VP. Within an hour, I had a call from the Comcast executive offices. They tracked down a tech and had someone at my house in under half an hour.

He’s outside right now installing a new cable. I still don’t know if the changes will solve my Vonage issues, but at least they’re working on it.

Tara recently pointed out how fantastic Twitter was at resolving a UPS problem. Through her Twitter network she was indirectly connected to a UPS VP and they completely solved her problem.

That’s sort of what happened here, too, and it’s great that Comcast has someone watching for these sorts of problems and working to resolve them. But it can’t scale. There’s no way that a couple of individuals at Comcast can possibly resolve every issue. And the fact that they had to escalate to a VP to get a problem resolved points to another scaling issue.

Not everyone knows a startup CEO that happens to have lunch with a UPS VP like Tara did. Not everyone is going to know that tweeting @comcastcares will connect them to Frank. These companies need to improve their regular communication channels and train, educate, and empower their customer service agents to resolve customer issues without having to get a VP involved.

All this service via social media is very cool. Forward thinking early adopters heading off problems using social media can only go so far if the execution on the ground is shoddy.

Incidentally, I wonder if @comcastcares and @comcastbill were hired by Comcast as social media customer service or if they simply showed some initiative and did it on their own?

Update The tech that came over left his cell phone number in case more problems arise. Syed from the executive office called back about an hour after the tech left to check and make sure he’d come by. Syed also left me his number in case I need it. And Frank (@comcastcares) tweeted to make sure I was being taken care of. Frank’s on vacation, but is following Twitter anyway.

Comcast Call Log

Dec 26 9:36am

  • didn’t get name, jstepping from shower
  • problem isthat vonage doesn’t work with comcast
  • comcast has voice service and it’s all digital
  • vonage is analog, can’t work on digital internet
  • ME: explain vonage and voip and how digital works
  • "you seem to know it all, so there’s not much I can do"
  • Can send a tech out, but there’s nothing wrong. Only vonage swithc will fix
  • ME: is that going to be comcast’s soluiton for every issue? Swithc to their competing service? It’s just IP packets.
  • ME: worked fine on ATT, what’s the issue now
  • "you already know it all, I can’t help then"
  • ME: Point out that I do this stuff for a living
  • So do I. USed to be ATT tech. They’re all analog, so that;s why it worked
  • Vonage can’t work with comcast. Need digital voice, not vonage
  • ME: What about the annoucement alst summer
  • Seen that on forums and blogs. jsut rumor, ddin’t really happen
  • ME: what about the press releases, stories in national news?
  • It’s not true. They’re not working together
  • ME: the only way I can get phone service is to use comcast or swtich providers?
  • "you’re the one that knows it all" but he can send someoen out to prove it
  • ME: I guess I should just find a new provider then
  • "Thanks for calling comcast"

Dec 26 11:56am

  • Al William
  • Same guy from this morning. Recognize the voice
  • Tech can come out between 8-10 tomorrow
  • Will call me befroe they come out to confirm. Must answer or they’ll cancel ticket 255283

Dec 27 8:29am

  • Comcast calls, but hangs up when I answer on the second ring

Dec 27 2:23 pm

  • Call from Comcast executive offices
  • Say tech claims he’s been calling all day and leaving messages
  • Will find a tech that can come over right now

December 28, 2008 11:47 AM

"And the fact that they had to escalate to a VP to get a problem resolved points to another scaling issue." It points to a corporate culture issue. Either the reps didn't feel equipped to handle the problem, or stifled by rules, or what have you. The times we've all received satisfactory service from Comcast prove that it's possible... just not likely. Twitter is an interesting medium -- for now. I would hazard a guess that it's getting more attention by service reps because it's new (see: @JetBlue), and expect it to fade into mediocrity as it approaches critical mass. Besides, who isn't aware that Comcast is terribad? ;)

Adam Kalsey
December 28, 2008 12:24 PM

Twitter is useful for customer service right now for a few reasons. First, it's good to monitor the real-time web for mentions of your company, wherever those mentions are (twitter, blogs, social networks). Second, the people using Twitter are early adopters and tend to have large networks. From a PR perspective, keeping them happy is more valuable than keeping the average consumer happy.

April 24, 2009 3:06 PM

You wouldn't happen to know if AT&t has a twitter account, because they're customer service people are worthless. I tried doing a "find people" search for for AT&T, but all I saw was their enterprise business solutions. I am having a major billing problem with them, and the people I talk to when I call refuse to help. I tried looking through their press releases for a VP of customer service or something, but I didn't see anything. Maybe I should just to a tweet about how their customer service sucks and see if they are monitoring...I think I will try that. This is a good idea though, never though about using Twitter for customer service issues.

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