Jane, who is actually employed by a third-party company hired by Comcast to provide phone-based support to customers, tells Consumerist that even though she was given a month of training before being tossed into the lion’s den to deal with customers, “most of the training focused on up-selling and less on troubleshooting and billing.”
She claims that she was not tested or required to demonstrate she could actually do the job; she was merely put on a 90-day probation period to start.
“You could literally lay in bed and fall asleep every day of training as an at-home worker and not be worried that you would get fired during that time,” writes Jane. “All you had to do was show up and you would get paid.”
That being said, Jane explains that just because a phone CSR can get away with being lazy, doesn’t mean he or she should. She also says that both her employer and Comcast provide a materials to support her and her fellow reps during customer calls.
“We have an internal search engine for most problems and a troubleshooting wizard to help us figure out the issue,” she tells Consumerist. “It’s really pot luck if you get a good rep or a bad one because it’s basically up to the rep to want to go above and beyond his/her job.”
The problem is, explains Jane, that phone reps tend to ignore most of that helpful material because they are more concerned with their metrics, especially with regard to how quickly they can get the customer off the phone.
“We generally try to take the fastest route available to get the customer off the phone unless we can up-sell,” she says.
Jane says there are periodic brush-up training sessions, but they’re “a joke… Training is 30 minutes to an hour a week and it’s self-paced with no monitoring.”
As for incentives, she explains that there are certain small benefits to satisfying certain goals, but these minor boosts “are not enough to make a representative go above and beyond,” says Jane. “When you get paid $9/hour to have someone use you as a punching bag those incentives make it hard to care about the customer.”
Making matters worse for everyone is the revolving-door nature of the work. Jane says she sees a steady stream of new blood coming in every month, with just as many people heading for the exits.
“It’s not a job you stay at very long,” she writes, “mostly because of the burnout from having 50-60 people scream at you on a daily basis.”
Part of that reason is the overly complicated software the phone CSRs must deal with on a daily basis.
“Every day I have to log into 9 different programs manually and juggle between them to solve an issue,” says Jane, who explains that the main program used for making changes to billing information, programming packages, issuing credits, scheduling installs, and making internal notes, uses so many complex codes and abbreviations that some people never fully get it. “I know some reps who have been on the floor for two years and still don’t have a handle on it. Anyone with common sense can look at the software and tell you that it needs to be simplified and that it can be simplified.”
Jane admits that her co-workers, both on the phone and the techs in the field, are not always doing their best to help customers.
“I had a customer call in 5 times because her cable service was not working,” she recalls. “I checked the internal notes to verify that the customer did indeed call in 5 times to get the problem resolved. Amazingly all it took for me to solve the customers issue was to ask her to change the channel to 03 on the television remote. I was embarrassed that the previous four reps did not try this simple troubleshooting step.”
And then there are the install techs and their destruction-happy ways.
“I’ve had calls where a Comcast technician would come out to a home to do a install and the tech would cause thousands of dollars in damage to a home,” she tells Consumerist. “I’ve also had calls were a customer stated that a technician was being verbally abusive to them. This was an elderly disabled person customer who apparently always got the same technician to come out to his home to do a repair.”
And Jane says that employees are sometimes getting bad advice from the people being paid to help them.
“We have mentors we can go to for guidance on questions while on a call,” she explains. “Some of these mentors have only been working for the company for a month. Sometimes it’s not the rep giving out the bad information, it’s the person the rep goes to for an answer.”
Jane says that on a number of occasions she’s ignored the advice of her mentor.
“For example, a customer calls in asking why she has not received her new cable box in the mail yet,” she recalls. “The customer has waited almost a month for it. In the system we see no tracking information and I find out it was an error in the ordering process. I ask how we should proceed with this. The mentor says to charge them again for sending out the cable box. I ask can we waive the shipping fee and expedite it. He says no, even while knowing it was OUR fault the issue happened.”
So instead of listening to her mentor, Jane simply sent out the equipment overnight to the customer and credited the account.
She summarizes, “It does make it very hard to empathize with a customer when you get yelled at 8 hours a day, but I don’t think that would prevent a rep from helping a customer. It’s not a job you can enjoy doing for long even if you enjoy helping others solve problems. At the end of the day this is one of those jobs that if they fired me I would throw a party.”
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