Comcast's Official Angry Customer Policy

This is an internal Comcast document entitled, “So you have an angry customer?” It’s a guide for technical support and customer service representatives for when unhappy customers call. It’s actually very good, full of plain talk and ways to think about the situation to help solve and defuse it. Apparently none of the Comcast customer service reps our readers complain about have ever read it.

So you have an angry customer?

Most customers are not thrilled to be calling any kind of technical support or customer service because generally they are having a problem with their service, and they want it taken care of as quick as possible.

As technical support/customer service representatives it is your job to respond appropriately to customers with many different demeanors.

Here are some things to think about when you get an angry or highly frustrated customer on the phone.

Understand the Source of the Anger

Realize that unhappy customers are not unhappy with you, just the situation. Most times you are not causing the customer’s frustration. Understand that they are not mad at you.

You can do a great deal to diffuse a caller’s anger before you even pick up the phone. When you answer the call, give a welcoming and professional greeting. It is more difficult to be rude to someone who’s warm and friendly.

Acknowledge the person’s feelings and apologize for the inconvenience the customer has encountered. Make an effort to be sincere. “I’m sorry that happened. Let me see what I can do to get this taken care of for you.” With an upset customer you will spend most of your time massaging their feelings and a small portion actually doing what you need to do to get the situation resolved.

Sympathize and empathize with the caller. “I can understand why you are upset” and other phrases of the sort can really help soothe the customer. Pretend it is you calling and then get busy solving the problem.

Accept 100 percent responsibility for the call. This is probably the toughest part. Chances are you had nothing to do with the problem. However, it is your job to accept responsibility and initiate work on a solution.

Prepare to help. Begin by reintroducing yourself – callers don’t usually remember your name. State that you will be able to help. Use the caller’s name, if possible, which helps diffuse the anger. A willing attitude is essential because if the caller senses insincerity or indifference, they will stay angry. It’s exasperating to file a complaint with someone who obviously doesn’t care.

No excuses

Never make an excuse to a complaining customer. No one wants to hear, “The computer is down,” or “My system is not running properly.” When you give excuses, the caller hears, “I’m not going to help you now”
Escalating a Call

Sometimes you are unable to resolve a problem on the spot. Many times you need more information from another department or local system. Although these are legitimate courses of action, they usually upset your caller again.

If you need more information, explain that to your caller. Avoid untrue phrases like “Hold on a sec” or “We will be back to you shortly.” You want to set the customers’ expectations appropriately so they do not become even more frustrated when what you told them does not come true. Let them know what you are going to do and that you are going to alert the appropriate people that help deal with situations such as this.

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(Photo: cmorran123)

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  1. VidaLondres says:

    I just got off of Live Chat with a CSR at Comcast, they’re my providers and I LOATHE their new advertising campaign. I was sick and tired of being subjected to Digital Voice advertisements. I must get 10 a month, it’s sickening to think about the resources that must take for something that goes straight into the recycling for me, but probably trash for most people.

    Anyway I had a wonderful experience! The guy apologized, quickly explained how he could fix it, and then did it by turning on an option on my account he called the “All Privacy Option”. He said this would stop any advertisements I would have recieved via phone, mail, or e-mail. A wonderful thing to know for all Comcast users.

    Kudos to “Eric” on live chat :P.

  2. VidaLondres says:

    @VidaLondres: Oh, I should also mention that he said it could take two billing cycles to go into effect, which sucks since that’s easily 20 more leaflets for me to recycle. But oh well, at least I had an out, and he didn’t even try to sell me the Digital Voice package on top of it. I asked if it was possible that this “all privacy option” was something I could control via my profile options, and he said “Sadly no, but it should be.” To all you frustrated Comcasters out there being spammed to death, know that it is possible to turn it off, but you have to do it through their customer service department.

  3. QuirkyRachel says:

    Hmmm, not bad. Too bad they just don’t have the skills to fix anything. Inevitably, their “fix” was to send a reset signal to the cable box. Generally, the cable boxes would need to be replaced about once a month, some as quickly as once a week. And for the internet setup issue that took 3 hours to resolve? *I* figured out what the problem was and fixed it myself!

  4. Anonymous says:

    hmmm. seems like a pretty standard guide here. i get a lot of those phrases when i get csr’s, and always wondered why. now i know. why does the idiot tell me he understands why i am mad, when its obvious he’s reading it from a script, and i haven’t even explained what the issue is yet. it doesn’t dis-arm me or diffuse me, it just makes me more angry that they even try to patronize me. total bs.

  5. JiminyChristmas says:

    I can imagine myself a Comcast CSR, rolling my eyes at this ‘how to’ guide.

    Anyone who has read Consumerist for any period of time knows the total disconnect between the CSRs and, for instance, dispatch and the installers. How can the CSR take 100% responsibility when they don’t even have the ability to tell you where the tech who is late for your install is?

  6. Anonymous says:

    they should call this comcast’s official guide to patronize the heck out of a customer.

  7. scoobydoo says:

    Not all CSR’s know about this… Last month my Internet was down for over a week, when I was on my 20th call to them I actually managed to get a CSR to cry on the phone. And I never raised my voice or got nasty, she just found the whole problem so overwhelming that she broke out in tears…

  8. achildfromthe80s says:

    I’ve found that every time I call Comcast they never do this! I had to laugh at some of the steps they have listed because it seems like I always get put on hold or told the system is down. Honestly, what would defuse my anger more is them just being honest with me. Such as when they didn’t show up for an internet install, the CSR claimed they put a note on my door yet I was moving in so they would have had to come into the house to do it being the door was wide open. All they would have needed to do was take my MAC address but it was just a mess. Just my experience! :)

  9. Bunnymuffin says:

    Umm, if I’m calling CS to resolve one of their fuckups the last thing I want is them to spend most of the time “massaging my feelings”. Just fix the problem and lets move on.

  10. technotica says:

    @scoobydoo: Qwest made me cry once when I was trying to get my internet set up at a new apartment. The supervisor was just such a jerk, can’t remember what he said to set me off – I don’t usually cry easily.

    I was just so desperate for internet access – Why won’t you just give me the INTERWEB? Its been over 24 hours without internet access. *breaks down sobbing, in fetal position on floor*

  11. SVreader says:

    “You can do a great deal to diffuse a caller’s anger before you even pick up the phone. When you answer the call, give a welcoming and professional greeting. It is more difficult to be rude to someone who’s warm and friendly.”

    Wouldn’t giving a greeting take place after picking up the phone?

  12. nursetim says:

    @Bunnymuffin:
    That would work for me 100% of the time.

  13. Chongo says:

    So what do I do if I’ve had 6 techs come out for repairs and the connection problems still remain? Should I just freak out on them? I mean, so far I’ve gotten almost free services from them for 3 months… but this is just getting almost funny.

  14. Anonymous says:

    @Chongo: sounds like to me you need new cable the p-whatever number it is. that was my problem. i had to have the landlord give permission to put in the new wire.

  15. obviously they don’t read

  16. mom22bless says:

    Comcast sucks.

    We were having signal issues (LINE trouble) for about a month. I talked with CSRs from Ontario, India, Mexico City and Indonesia. I asked them were they were located after I couldn’t understand ANY of them.

    I wish we were still with Time Warner and I could talk to an AMERICAN.

  17. wilderness says:

    I called to sign up for service and reached an Indian office. I had called up a week ago to inquire about their 29.99 a month plan for digital cable and was told the offer would be good until the end of the month. Of course, when I call back the offer is no longer available, so I was a somewhat-angry customer myself. Luckily they were able to give me the same service for $33 and I asked that HBO be included for the year, and I was actually successful.

    That being said, I think the biggest problem with CSRs, is that instead of admitting that they don’t know the answer to your question or asking someone else, they make something up.

  18. LionelEHutz says:

    Comcast’s “customer service” staff is so stupid they make rocks look like geniuses.

    The last time I had a problem with them I got so fed up I reported them to my county’s “County Cable Office”. The problem was resolved within 2 days after that call.

  19. formergr says:

    @mom22bless: Yeah, that Ontario accent is a tough one to understand, eh?

  20. Rob says:

    As a CSR for an Internet Company on the west coast I know that we have some similarity’s and some differences in our handling of Upset Customers.

    For instance we are supposed to always remain sympathetic with the “Yeah I understand, it would upset me…” but we are told to never say sorry because it puts the blame on the company or something, basically we don’t take responsibility for what happens”

    Also, I know that this has been said before but don’t call angry, calling angry just pisses off the already pissed/irritated tech, don’t yell (Remember we can’t yell back so we find other things to do to piss you off), don’t eat while your on the phone (don’t go to the bathroom, please please please don’t) and remember were people too get screwed over by the company as well.

  21. witeowl says:

    I’ve found the flip side to be true as well. If you’re having a problem with a company, and find your frustration or anger coming across on the telephone, it helps to make it clear to the agent with whom you’re speaking that you’re frustrated with the situation and/or company and not angry at the agent. I’ve found that simply saying, “Please understand that I’m mad at the policy, not you,” can massage the agent’s feelings enough that they’ll keep working with you and it becomes much more likely to end up with a happy solution. They’re human, too.

  22. BigNutty says:

    Comcast has great printed guidelines but the real question is what can they do to solve your problem?Everybody knows that most CS departments are going downhill.

    Many CSR have no authority to help you with more than the basic complaint. They read prepared scripts that become funny when they lose their place.

    Living in the USA and speaking English, I go crazy when my call is routed to India, Jamaica, Phillipines or anywhere they don’t hire clear “English speaking” CSR’s.

    I have been keeping track of were my CS calls wind up and last night when I called my credit card company I asked what country the CSR was from (another accent I could barley understand) and she told me they are not allowed to say.

    What about an automated menu that takes 15 minutes to get the option to talk to a human?

  23. Anonymous says:

    At those who think CSRs are just idiots trying to patronize the customer, please understand that we don’t write these policies. Our job requirements include using certain phrases and showing empathy at specific points in the call. Most of us would prefer to simply fix your issue instead of assuring you how very very deeply we care about your issue despite the fact we’ll never speak to you again; however, we would like to keep our jobs more than we would like to skip the QA steps.

  24. Anonymous says:

    At Bignutty: I go crazy when people call in and talk about how them foreigners don’t speak no good English.

  25. Bunnymuffin says:

    @nursetim: Would that be fixing the problem or massaging your feelings? And before you answer that I’m pretty sure they are referring to your heartbreak over their crappy service and not any nerve endings that might tingle. ;)

  26. dantsea says:

    @mom22bless: With TWC, you were probably speaking with a Canadian from Kamloops, St. Johns, Belleville or Ottawa and working in an outsourced call center. You might have reached an American in the company-owned call center in Buffalo, though that facility was inherited in the Adelphia merger earlier this year. And you likely never spoke with anyone at the outsourced call centers in Morganfield, KY or Augusta, GA — I guarantee you’d be taking a hammer to the local office if you had.

    And even if you went back to TWC, your chances of speaking to anyone in North America are fading rapidly — those jobs are being shifted to cheaper call centers in the Philippines.

  27. PseudoKiller says:

    In a former life I was a CSR for a few different ISP’s and with that background it has made me change how I approach anyone I may need to work with in communicating and resolving an issue. First off any real business will have CSR’s who will make an effort to help and those who are bitter or may just be having a bad day (to be kind)
    The trick is to figure out what type of CSR you are talking too. This helps so that you aren’t wasting your time. If you do find you are talking to a less than enthusiastic representative, then do yourself a favor and either ask to talk to someone else or just hang up and call back. A company as large as Comcast has enough CSR’s that chances are slim you will get the same one. Getting angry and expressing that anger or frustration should be done to a minimum. The CSR didnt create the problem (hopefully) but its their job to solve it… Use that to your advantage. I found that some ego stroking will get you much farther than assigning blame.
    From my own experience with the few times I have had to call someone at Comcast I plainly told them I understand that these systems they use can’t be up and running 24/7/365 and that there will be outages it just comes down to how long and to be sure its not a problem with my stuff. I related some personal stuff (my kid making noise in the background gets them every time) I would explain with out my tv service I cant fully teach him out to use the remote since he wants to play with it all the time I figure he should learn how to change the channels for me. Needless to say talking to a female CSR gets more sympathy and empathy and definitely more laughs. Plus afterwards the problem was being worked on but I still got a month of service and 3 coupons for free on demand movies and the call took 10 minutes and there was more laughing going on. The problem was resolved with in an hour after that call.

  28. Saboth says:

    I’m an angry Comcast customer. They just bought out Adelphia in my area months back. Guess what we got from the deal? A rate increase? Yes! My cable went up about $5 a month to $102 a month (for basic cable and 6mb cable internet). Guess what I got in the mail this week, months later? A rate increase? Yes! Now my cable is going up about $3 to $105 a month. They broke this down as “new and exciting things being offered to you”, then went on to talk about they are upgrading their backbone, installing fiber, BLAH BLAH. Me: Do I get any more cable channels? No. Is my internet any faster? No. Then you aren’t offering me sh*t.

  29. create says:

    @JiminyChristmas: if they call the techs every 5 minutes and bother dispatch every 5 minutes, the techs and dispatch will spend more time explaining, or finding techs, and everyone’s install will be late, sometimes we have to accept people get stuck on a particularly hard job, or stuck in traffic or whatever… and at least here in ny time warner has their on time guarantee :)

  30. buccaneerdude says:

    I’m not sure what people on here are really looking for. Is it bad that CSRs are trained to be polite and show empathy before they work to resolve an issue. Seems that this site is becoming good at gathering villagers with torches and pitchforks. Would anyone think about going into a restaurant and flaming the waitress as she tried to take your order? Would you guys complain that she smiled as you said “Just the specials, d*** it!!” It troubles me how our culture continues to become more rude and feel justified about it. Want a problem fixed…..try a novel approach and be nice to the person on the phone. Thank them for the help. Partner with them to get some kind of resolution. In all my years of calling CSRs and customer service, this tact rarely fails.

  31. aprentus says:

    ok, I work for a cable internet provider that I’m not allowed to mention, I do tech support, and have a pretty d**** good idea on what goes on in these places, and for the record, I work in OREGON USA.

    1st, unless you actually ask where someone is, don’t assume that your talking to a different country,
    there are plenty of immigrants working here in the US.

    2nd, your cable provider is ONLY responsible for the line UP TO 10 INCHES from the wall of your house, if your outlets are bad thats your problem, not theirs, it’s your house!

    3rd, CSR’s take way to much crap for situations they have no control over, IF they can do what you want, then they probably will if your polite about it.

    4th, read your terms of service. not only did you agree not to use your services for business purposes, but the internet is for entertainment purposes. If you need up time, get a business account.

    5, don’t blame Comcast for Adelphia’s mistakes, those criminal f***ers, did that to you, the siphoned off the money you where paying them, money that could have gone to say, I don’t know, network maintenance and upgrade. Comcast did not go rip up TW/AD’s lines and replace it, it’s the same network. And if Comcast had not stepped into that mess out there, none of you would have any cable service.

    6. If your unhappy with your rate plan, call the companies sales department. If your cable provider went out of business, and the new one gives you a higher bill, most likely you are eligible for some kind of package or special, since you’ve never had one before.

  32. Impius says:

    Ok, I’m willing to bet I get alot of hate mail for this but….
    I work for Comcast and I can tell you that 9 times out of 10 the customers you speak to are fairly competent and can or atleast will try to follow directions however its the customers that yell and scream that stay with you and make you more and more jaded.
    Now me myself when a customer calls in try like hell to take care of the issue if I can directly, if I can’t then I try to get a tech out as quickly as I can. I wish I could say the same thing for all the reps but I know that’s not the case. Anyway best of luck to you guys who have had/are having issues and hopefully you can call in get me.
    -Impius

  33. anasmartypants says:

    @BigNutty: i think this is a big “kick in the as$” to the people who PREFER to speak with off-shore agents because they know that they can help them more than their local offices :)

  34. anasmartypants says:

    @buccaneerdude: thank you sir!