Comcast: 5,500 New Employees Won’t Fix Customer Experience

Comcast recently announced that it will add more than 5,500 customer service jobs as part of a “customer experience transformation” effort. That’s not the answer to its customer experience woes.

Comcast provides terrible customer experience. While I’m pretty sure that most people reading this post are nodding in agreement based on their personal, anecdotal experiences, we actually have data that shows that the company is truly awful in how it treats its customers. Comcast earned terrible ratings in both the 2015 Temkin Customer Service Ratings (last place out of 278 companies for the 2nd year in a row) and 2015 Temkin Experience Ratings (291st out of 293 companies).

Before I go too far in picking on Comcast, let me say that the problem is endemic across large cable providers, especially Cox Communications, Charter Communications, and Time Warner Cable. As you can see in the chart below, TV services and Internet services industries are the lowest in both overall customer experience and customer service.

1506_BadCXCableWhy don’t I think that Comcast can solve this problem by hiring 5,500 service reps? Because the company’s issues have to do more with it’s culture than with the number of people that it employs. The breath of the issues demonstrate a very low level of customer experience maturity across the organization. Unless the company develops a more customer-centric culture, then adding people will at best only create superficial improvements.

So, whats the answer? Comcast (and its peers) need to focus on building all four customer experience core competencies:

  • Purposeful Leadership: Leaders operate consistently with a clear, well-articulated set of values.
  • Compelling Brand Values: Brand attributes are driving decisions about how you treat customers.
  • Employee Engagement: Employees are fully committed to the goals of your organization.
  • Customer Connectedness: Customer feedback and insight is integrated throughout your organization.

Where’s a good place for Comcast execs to start? Watch this video:

The bottom line: Build a customer-centric culture, don’t just add people

About Bruce Temkin, CCXP
I am a customer experience transformist, helping large organizations improve business results by changing how they deal with customers. As part of this focus, I examine strategy, culture, interaction design, customer service, branding and leadership practices. I am also a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Simply put, I am passionate about spotting emerging best practices and helping companies master them. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. My “title” is Managing Partner of the Temkin Group, a customer experience research and consulting firm that helps organizations become more customer-centric. Our goal is simple: accelerate the path to delighting customers. I am also the co-founder and Emeritus Chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA.org), a non-profit organization dedicated to the success of CX professionals.

5 Responses to Comcast: 5,500 New Employees Won’t Fix Customer Experience

  1. Jeff Toister says:

    Bruce – you hit the nail on the head. Comcast has a culture problem. Their long string of public service failures, combined with the inept leadership that lead to it, provides many great examples. Have you heard about the A**hole Brown incident?

    http://www.toistersolutions.com/blog/2015/1/30/comcasts-toxic-culture-and-the-ahole-brown-incident

  2. David Mooney says:

    Bruce, you are absolutely correct that adding people won’t address the problem. I recently had a horrible experience with Comcast, involving what should have been a routine issue. The source of the service failure wasn’t the representatives – they haplessly tried to do their best, under the circumstances. But they were hamstrung by tortuous processes and bureaucratic policies that seemed to be “designed” without any consideration of customers. Comcast paid its CEO over $33 Million last year – what does that say about how much they value customer service?

  3. Matt LeVeque says:

    As an admirer of the Temkin Group and a fellow CXPA member I would strongly agree with the argument that adding more employees will not fix the customer service/experience problems Comcast is legendary for. Adding more people to fix problems instead of addressing the root cause is a basic quality management 101 lesson and something John Guaspari wrote about 30 years ago in his book, “I Know It When I see It”.

    I would, however, disagree that “the company is truly awful”. Awful at customer service, yes (but taking steps to improve). Awful as a company, no. Comcast is a giant in Philadelphia creating 1,000’s of jobs in and around the city as well as nationwide. Comcast is highly rated by its employees and is a very family-friendly place to work promoting a healthy work-life balance. It also has a commendable CSR program giving back to communities in various ways. In my opinion, that’s not awful. Instead I would rephrase the statement to reflect what’s awful – Customer Service, not the company as a whole.

    As professionals we should be more mindful when looking at data and making blanketed statements. There are are many divisions of Comcast and judging the entire company based on one divisions poor performance is not fair.

    (Note: Comcast does not employ me, but I have worked for Comcast as a vendor and consultant in the past.)

    • Matt: Thanks for commenting — and for calling me out for using too broad of a brush to paint Comcast. While all of my comments were in the context of the company’s customer service and customer experience (which are awful), I can see how my words could be construed in a broader context. I have changed the words to more accurately reflect what I meant.

      I really appreciate your feedback, which has allowed me to clean up my language.

  4. SirSocial says:

    Great article Bruce. I do see one thing in the comments that I want to make sure we don’t get hung up on. Everyone is correct that adding more customer service jobs will not fix the issue “by it’self”. Having spent 5 years in customer service I can assure you that working on a call log that is guaranteed never to end makes you do some wacky things. It eats away at your sense of worth and convinces you that your company is horrible because all you ever hear is the bad stuff. I won’t comment on the industry because it is not one I have worked in but as you said here, this does seem to be a widespread issue. What we are left with is the sentiment of “if the problems never end, we suck, and so does everyone else, why try?

    New employees will not fix this issue but using them to take the pressure off the queue does offer some interesting possibilities. 1. Purposeful leadership. New employees can mean new leaders. Train them right and goal them on satisfaction scores 2. Employee Engagement & Customer Connectedness. Get started on the right foot with training and incentives and make the customer focus contagious.

    What I’m getting at is this. Are they horrible? Yup. I switched to Verizon as fast as I could sign. But that doesn’t mean that their efforts will be meaningless. Let’s just hope they read your post!

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