Comcast Memo: Rep From “Painful” Retention Call Was Doing “What We Trained Him To Do”

A week after the posting of the neediest customer-retention call in Comcast history, the fallout continues, with the company’s Chief Operating Officer telling Comcast employees in a memo leaked to Consumerist that the incident was “painful to listen to,” but that the rep “did a lot of what we trained him…to do.”

The below letter from Comcast COO Dave Watson was posted today to the Team Comcast employees’ site for all to read, and apparently to pass on to Consumerist.

In the message, Watson admits that “we are embarrassed by the tone of the call and the lack of sensitivity to the customer’s desire to discontinue service,” while also taking the opportunity to position the incident as a teachable moment.

“[W]hile I regret that this incident occurred, the experience that this customer had is not representative of the good work that our employees are doing,” he writes. “That said, it was painful to listen to this call, and I am not surprised that we have been criticized for it.”

Watson concedes that working the Retention line, where customers are trying to say farewell, isn’t an easy job.

“Respecting our customers is fundamental, and we fell short in this instance,” he writes. “I know these Retention calls are tough, and I have tremendous admiration for our Retention professionals, who make it easy for customers to choose to stay with Comcast.”

Refreshingly, the COO seems to be putting some of the blame on the company instead of the employee.

“The agent on this call did a lot of what we trained him and paid him — and thousands of other Retention agents — to do,” continues Watson. “He tried to save a customer, and that’s important, but the act of saving a customer must always be handled with the utmost respect.”

As a result, the company is at least paying lip-service to the idea of better training for employees (whether they make good on these promises is still to be seen).

“This situation has caused us to reexamine how we do some things to make sure that each and every one of us — from leadership to the front line — understands the balance between selling and listening,” he admits. “When the company has moments like these, we use them as an opportunity to get better, and that’s what we’re going to do. We will review our training programs, we will refresh our manager on coaching for quality, and we will take a look at our incentives to ensure we are rewarding employees for the right behaviors. We can, and will, do better.”

Below is the full text of the memo posted by Watson.

A Message From Dave Watson,
July 21, 2014

You probably know that there has been a fair amount of media attention about a recording of a phone call between one of our Customer Account Executives (CAEs) and a Comcast customer. The call went viral on social media and generated news headlines. We have apologized to the customer privately and publicly on Comcast Voices, making it clear that we are embarrassed by the tone of the call and the lack of sensitivity to the customer’s desire to discontinue service.

I’d like to give you my thoughts on the situation.

First, let me say that while I regret that this incident occurred, the experience that this customer had is not representative of the good work that our employees are doing. We have tens of thousands of incredibly talented and passionate people interacting with our customers every day, who are respectful, courteous and resourceful.

That said, it was painful to listen to this call, and I am not surprised that we have been criticized for it. Respecting our customers is fundamental, and we fell short in this instance. I know these Retention calls are tough, and I have tremendous admiration for our Retention professionals, who make it easy for customers to choose to stay with Comcast. We have a Retention queue because we believe in our products, and because we offer a great value when customers have the right facts to choose the package that works best for them. If a customer is not fully aware of what the product offers, we ask the Retention agent to educate the customer and work with them to find the right solution.

The agent on this call did a lot of what we trained him and paid him — and thousands of other Retention agents — to do. He tried to save a customer, and that’s important, but the act of saving a customer must always be handled with the utmost respect. This situation has caused us to reexamine how we do some things to make sure that each and every one of us — from leadership to the front line — understands the balance between selling and listening. And that a great sales organization always listens to the customer, first and foremost.

When the company has moments like these, we use them as an opportunity to get better, and that’s what we’re going to do. We will review our training programs, we will refresh our manager on coaching for quality, and we will take a look at our incentives to ensure we are rewarding employees for the right behaviors. We can, and will, do better.

Thank you for your support, and many thanks to the thousands of exceptional employees all around the country who work so hard to deliver a great customer experience every day. I am confident that together we will continue to improve the experience, one customer at a time.

Dave Watson
Chief Operating Officer, Comcast Cable

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  1. C0Y0TY says:

    They’re making Retention sound like a suicide hotline. Or an AA sponsorship. Or a religious counselor. They must “save” the misguided customer… Comcast is Mother, Comcast is Father…

  2. Snarkapus says:

    “The below letter from Comcast COO Dave Watson was posted today to the Team Comcast employees’ site for all to read, and apparently to pass on to Consumerist.”

    I’m sure they were WELL aware that the contents of that missive would go public. I’m sure it was carefully crafted to simultaneously blame everyone–and no one–as it does superbly.

  3. offenhauser says:

    Yes, your” retention professionals” do make it easy to choose to stay with Comcast. But they don’t know how to listen. He repeated over and over that he wanted to leave. Respect what we ask. please. That recording gave me a headache. It was like trying to get out of hell. I don’t have Comcast and after hearing that I never will.