Comcast Trawling Blogs And Twitter For Customer Complaints

The sometimes customer service deficient cable company Comcast has a new “fireman” whose job is to respond when people blog or Twitter their customer complaints. Frank Eliason’s unenviable task is to watch the blogosphere and reach out to posters when they kvetch about Comcast. He’s a nice guy, he’s reached out to help some our reader’s posted complaints, but he’s not omnipotent. This article covers two people customers contacted by Eliason. One of them got their problem solved within a day, the other was still waiting for a solution a work-week later. It is Comcast, after all. Still, if regular customer service isn’t helping you, try blogging or Twittering your problem and maybe the magic customer service fairy will visit you! Also, his Twitter profile is comcastcares and his email is We_Can_Help@cable.comcast.com.

Comcast’s big push to repair its image [Philly.com]

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  1. rmz says:

    Something is wrong when regular customer service channels don’t work and people are forced to resort to this to get proper service.

  2. Honestly I’m sure a lot of problems Comcast has can be fixed with competent people taking action. All too often the people who KNOW what’s going on, going wrong, or how to fix it are in the minority.

  3. Ben Popken says:

    @rmz: QFT.

  4. noquarter says:

    If only Comcast had some other way to find out when their customers were experiencing problems which they could respond to and fix. Perhaps some sort of 800 number.

    No. Surely, such technology does not exist.

  5. BigElectricCat says:

    Agree with rmz. The regular customer service channels should get the job done. They don’r. So Comcast decides to roll out this added channel while tooting its own horn.

    What do they want, a cookie? Their customer service channels still don’t work, and this Eliason dude admits that he can’t fix everything.

  6. zentex says:

    @jiminyxmas: file this as a follow-up to that previous story?

  7. elf6c says:

    If only Verizon, Sears and BOA did this. Sure the anti-cable folks will not disappoint. . .

    /Pulls out the popcorn

  8. salguod_senrab says:

    The problem is that some of these organizations are so large, so unweildy, and so utterly not organized for customer service that even someone with a broad mandate and the best of intentions is going to face an uphill battle.

    Insurance companies are even worse. My wife is a health care provider, and got caught up in a bureaucratic nightmare with one of the carriers she accepts. (If you think the treatment you get as a patient is bad, you should seen the horrible nightmares that in-network providers face.)

    It turns out that the carrier was a client of our firm, and I’d done a fair bit of work for them. I had a very pleasant chat with their general counsel, who then put the full weight of his office behind solving the problem.

    Not only was the problem initially not fixed, it was made worse. Completely misleading and upsetting letters were sent to my wife’s patients. The mess wasn’t fully disentangled for almost three months, despite repeated demands to fix things from the GC (who occasionally bcc’d me).

    I had a nightmarish experience with Alamo/Enterprise in Guatemala, after we wrecked a rental car there. It’s a story for another time, but the upshot was that when I got back to the U.S., I called to complain, was connected to an ombudswoman, who … could do exactly nothing, since the Guatemala office is a franchise.

    So I think it’s a great step that companies are taking the “Ombudsman” approach to dealing with customer service, but there is only so much they can do.

  9. dreamcatcher2 says:

    As several people pointed out, it’s ridiculous that comcast is resorting to breaking the traditional tech support model. But I can kind of see why they do it, and what it reveals about their actual goals. Comcast wants two things: provide a reasonable level of service to the majority of customers, and prevent situations in which service is so bad it becomes a villain story in the news. Increasing the service level for a large customer base is very expensive – it is difficult for them to filter out the truly horrific situations because they don’t pay their call center employees enough, and every customer wants their situation to seem the most urgent. It’s easier for Comcast to rely on the media to filter out those truly horrific stories so they can address them.

    What this reveals of course is that the willingness of consumers to accept merely a “reasonable” level of service leads to the villain situations. Reasonable service 99.9% of the time sounds good until you have a million customers, and then you have ridiculous stories of people getting screwed over appearing on consumerist every week. We need to demand 99.99999% good service… but it’s easy to just play the numbers and be happy with our 99.9%.

  10. Mr. Gunn says:

    I think this actually kinda makes sense, because it’s much more efficient to gather complaints this way than over the traditional phone-based channels. One person can monitor a bunch of channels, instead of it being one person per call. I think twitter is a ridiculous choice as opposed to forums that WAY more people use such as DSL Reports, but it probably doesn’t take too much more effort to add another channel to the mix.

  11. comcastcares says:

    Yes ComcastCares is me! And my team and I are happy to assist any of our Customers. The article points out some phone tag with Ms. Chambers, but at this point we have scheduled a visit for tomorrow. We do work to resolve all Customer concerns in a timely fashion, but sometime we have to revert to the phone to assist. This is a very small part of an overall effort to improve Customer Service!

    Thank you for all the feedback over time!

  12. mike says:

    @noquarter: You know, that’s such a great idea. I wish more companies had the care to allow customers to get in touch with them. Like, some sort of site…that would be accessible instantly. I don’t know what I would call this type of connection but I think it would be a hit.

  13. MPHinPgh says:

    @Ben Popken:

    Being dumb here for a moment…

    What is QFT?

  14. axiomatic says:

    Outsourcing does not work for localized services and that is basically the problem here. Do you know how hard it is for a Indian/South American worker in a call center to give you information about a tech coming to your house in your city?

    Whatever middle/upper manager came up with this brilliant plan needs to be shot… execution style.

    I recently had the pleasure of getting Comcast out to my newly built house for new service. Since the neighborhood is so new there was no directions available in Google maps (etc.) for them to follow. So I had to give directions to Punjab at the new 1-800 number for Comcast so he could then relay the directions to the guy in the Comcast truck. After Punjab failed FOUR TIMES I just asked him to give my cellphone number to the on site tech, when he called me being the the local guy knew the streets correct pronunciation, he was easily able to find my house where the Indian tech could not get him there.

    Just f-ing sad…

  15. baliktad says:

    I’m not sure we should be applauding Comcast’s efforts. Their goal here is not necessarily to improve customer service. Their goal is to improve the public *perception* of their customer service. If they can quash virtually all negative blog/twitter/consumerist posts about Comcast, perception will be primarily driven by their own ads about “Comcastic!” service.

    I like that Comcast is taking care of customers that complain. I don’t like that customers have to resort to a public outcry to resolve any issues.

  16. P_Smith says:

    Comcast’s “logic”:

    “Why make the fire department go out for smouldering couch when you can wait until it’s a three-alarm fire? Let’s not take care of it until it’s worth our time!”

  17. Clsmooth says:

    When all the people bitching about comcast have ran a huge corporation successfully then they should come back and complain.

    Till then they have no f-ing clue what there talking about. Outsourcing has to be done – when you got a million jerk-offs who want comcast to come replace the batteries in there remote or give them free HDMI cables it kills your ability to address the people who actually have real problems.

    And not all cust service calls are outsourced. If you want to talk to someone local call during off peak hours.

  18. FLConsumer says:

    @rmz: I 100% agree –

    HEY COMCAST, FIX YOUR NON-FUNCTIONAL CUSTOMER SUPPORT SYSTEM. It’s cheaper in the long-run and you wouldn’t have to separately seek out all of the people you’ve screwed over.

    @dreamcatcher2: 99.9%? bahahahaha… Closer to 75% in these parts, at best. So far they’re batting < .500 with the connections I have with them, and all but one of my connections with Comcast are Business-grade data connections. The only saving grace is that they’re my clients’ connections and not my own. I wouldn’t risk my business on Comcast’s service.

  19. Twitch says:

    The only reason they’re doing this is because things posted on the internet last forever. It’s just a publicity move. Not necessarily a bad one, but still, just publicity.

  20. Corydon says:

    @MPHinPgh: QFT= Quoted For Truth

    @dreamcatcher2: QFT =)

    Expert customer service is expensive, especially when the cheaper models will cover (say) 80-90% of the problems.

    Then you get your more expensive experts to focus on the 10-20% of cases that are more difficult.

    The trick is how do you identify the really tough cases? You can’t just ask customers to sort themselves out. Of course everyone wants access to the expert. (Thus the diminishing returns on the EECB—once everyone starts using it it loses its effectiveness).

    This would appear to be a way for Comcast to sort through and find the cases where the normal procedures have failed. What they really need is a better way of identifying these customers before they’re pissed off enough to start posting on the Internet.

  21. When I noticed this on Twitter I was going through similar issues with RCN (Starpower) and found myself wishing that they had a similar support/PR guy scouring the net.

    I did blog about my experiences and noticed more than a few visits from IP addresses withing RCN Corporate, so companies are still searching for mentions in blogs, they’re just not doing anything about it.

    Bravo to Comcast, but as others have said, it sucks when you acknowledge that your customer support structure is in such bad shape.

  22. MPHinPgh says:

    @Corydon: QFT…got it. Thanks!

  23. pal003 says:

    “Comcast profits soar by 54 percent in fourth quarter [2007]”

    Monopoly businesses don’t have to care about customer service. It’s that simple.

  24. spinachdip says:

    @rmz: Not necessarily. Jet Blue and Zappos, to name two, seem to know what they’re doing with Twitter:
    [twitter.com]
    [twitter.com]

  25. fluiddruid says:

    FYI, “ComcastCares” is also hitting up some regular forums as well.

  26. spinachdip says:

    @fluiddruid: To add to my previous comment, as crappy as Comcast service can be, I appreciate that there’s at least some transparency and they’re not Astroturfing with shills and fake blogs like corporations often did back in 2007. Well, maybe Comcast still does that too, but the Tweeting and posting as “comcastcares” is a step up.

    BTW, you can follow Twitter conversations for Comcast (and any Twitter profile) at Quotably: [quotably.com]

  27. answergrape says:

    After a week of missed appointments, hang-ups, and empty promises…I was at the end.

    Have to say…. emailed Frank Eliason as a last resort. He sent it to the local fixer within a few minutes. A tech was at my house within an hour.

    That’s some powerful mojo.

  28. elvisaintdead says:

    Monopoly businesses don’t have to care about customer service. It’s that simple.@pal003:

    Ballgame.
    FTW.
    WYSIWYG.

    THIS.

  29. Hellblazer says:

    I’ve been without TV or internet for the past year. Because Comcast is my only option, and I refuse to give those useless bastards another dime.

    I wonder what kind of response I’d get if I threw that up on my blog?

  30. shortergirl06 says:

    I have wondered if anyone else noticed this. The guys last name is Eliason. The first time I saw it, I saw it as E-Liason.

    Liaison: the contact or connection maintained by communications between units of the armed forces or of any other organization in order to ensure concerted action, cooperation, etc.

    I understand that Liaison is misspelled in his name, but perhaps that it’s one of those marketing things.

    I don’t buy that it’s a single person.

  31. spinachdip says:

    OMG, two worlds colliding: [quotably.com]

  32. ekistics22 says:

    Why surf the web looking for feedback from dissatisfied customers? A lot of it is one place:

    [www.epinions.com]