Comcast Promises This Guy Is Coming To Fix Your Cable

Comcast has an image problem… mostly because its customer service is consistently ranked among the worst — not just of cable companies, but of all customer-facing businesses in the U.S. So maybe that’s not so much an image problem as it is a systemic rot that has been allowed to fester because the company has virtually no competition. So how to deal with this problem? Promote someone and claim that he’s going the answer to all your problems.

Kabletown announced today that it has promoted Charlie Herrin (who looks kind of like a laboratory hybrid of Wings’ Tim Daly and Thirtysomething’s Peter Horton) to be the company’s Senior VP of Customer Experience.

“Our customers deserve the best experience every time they interact with us,” writes Comcast Cable president Neil “no, it’s not Smith” Smit. “While we’ve made progress, we need to do a better job to make sure those interactions are excellent… from the moment a customer orders a new service, to the installation, to the way we communicate with them, to how we respond to any issues.”

That all sounds great Neil. Why didn’t you think of doing any of that for the last few decades while you gobbled up smaller cable companies without raising alarm bells at the FCC?

“The way we interact with our customers – on the phone, online, in their homes – is as important to our success as the technology we provide,” continues Smit, ignoring the fact that Comcast does everything it can to get you off the phone, uses scripted online chat that is hard to distinguish from a machine, and rarely shows up to your house when it’s supposed to. “Put simply, customer service should be our best product.”

Again, no duh.

The manure-spreading continues.

“Our customers deserve the best and we need to work harder to earn their trust and their business every day by exceeding their expectations,” writes Smit, again glossing over the fact that Comcast customers may indeed deserve the best, but they probably aren’t going to get it, at least in markets where there is no competing service for pay-TV and broadband.

Without competition, Comcast has no reason to actually back up this “we love our customers” sentiment. What are you going to do, switch to slow DSL service from your local phone company that hasn’t maintained its copper wire network in years? Or maybe you can get wireless broadband and pay the same amount as Xfinity for 1/70th the amount of data each month.

In spite of what Comcast and Time Warner Cable would have you believe, those are not alternatives.

“Transformation isn’t going to happen overnight,” admits Smit, in the post’s first real sign of anything resembling humility or honesty. “In fact, it may take a few years before we can honestly say that a great customer experience is something we’re known for. But that is our goal and our number one priority … and that’s what we are going to do.”

And that’s apparently where Herrin comes in.

In addition to being a “partner” with the heads of other groups, like customer service, technical operations, sales, marketing, training and development, and product innovation, Herrin is tasked with the unenviable task of listening to “feedback from customers as well as our employees to make sure we are putting our customers at the center of every decision we make.”

Herrin’s even got a pair of Emmy awards (who doesn’t?) gathering dust next to Comcast’s two Golden Poo statues for Worst Company In America. We had no idea they gave Emmys for this sort of thing, but Herrin got his back in 2011 for the Xfinity TV iPad app and another in 2013 for the X1 user interface.

The only way that Comcast will truly begin to treat customers better is when they stand to lose those customers. But rather than fight proactively to keep those subscribers by providing better service, Comcast would rather lobby against municipal broadband and exploit loopholes in net neutrality rules to squeeze tolls out of high-bandwidth content companies like Netflix that directly compete with Comcast’s pay-TV service but rely on its Xfinity broadband to reach consumers.

If Comcast truly believed that customers were the most important thing, it would welcome competition and show that its product would still be bought even after people were given a choice.


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