Comcast Needs To Trim Its Customer Experience Action Plan

A few months ago, The Consumerist leaked Comcast’s 10 point Customer Experience Action Plan.

1. Never being satisfied with good enough
2. Investing in training, tools, and technology
3. Hiring more people … Thousands of people
4. Being on time, every time
5. Get it right the first time
6. Keeping bills simple and transparent
7. Service on demand
8. Rethinking policies and fees
9. Reimagining the retail experience
10. Keeping score

My take: As you probably already know, Comcast has terrible customer experience. It’s consistently one of the worst companies in the Temkin Experience Ratings. So I have to start by applauding the leadership team for taking the problem seriously, and putting together a plan.

But the plan is flawed. I’ve already commented on Comcast’s mistaken plan to hire 5,500 new people, which is item #3. The 10 items collectively read like a laundry list of things, instead of a coherent approach and commitment to change the overall culture of the company (see the video, Driving Customer Experience Transformation, Made Simple).

The initial item “Never being satisfied with good enough” falls flat for an organization that is rarely good enough. How does that resonate with the pain that its customers regularly feel?

And the last item “keeping score” is also a red flag. Having and touting a customer experience metric is quite different from using it to drive change. We found that while more than half of the large companies describe themselves as “good” at collecting CX metrics, less than 20% are “good” at making trade-offs between financial metrics and CX metrics.

What do I recommend? Comcast should narrow its focus and make a commitment to be better at a few things that will make a huge difference for customers. Here’s what I suggest:

  1. Being on time, every time
  2. Get it right the first time
  3. Keeping bills simple and transparent

If Comcast can do these things, then its customer experience will improve dramatically. As a matter of fact, if it just gets it right the first time, then I’d expect to see it jump out of the bottom of the Temkin Experience Ratings.

The bottom line: Commitment to a few things is better than a list of many

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

TV Service Providers Deliver Very Poor Customer Experience

We recently released the 2015 Temkin Experience Ratings that ranks the customer experience of 293 companies across 20 industries based on a survey of 10,000 U.S. consumers.

The average rating for the TV service providers industry dropped from 54% in 2014 to 52% in 2015—the first time in the history of the Ratings that this industry has declined. As an industry, TV service providers ranked 19th out of 20 industries.

Here are some highlights from the TV service providers’ results:

  • Cablevision Optimum earned the highest rating the TV service provider industry, with a score of 61% and an overall rank of 199th place.
  • Comcast was the lowest-rated TV service provider for the second year in a row, scoring 43% and ranking 291st out of 293 companies. Comcast also scored the furthest below the industry average for each of the three components, falling 6.7 percentage-points below the success average, 9.3 points below the effort average, and 11.6 points below average for the emotion average.
  • Of the nine TV service providers that we evaluated both last year and this year, only two of them increased their scores between 2014 and 2015. Verizon improved by three percentage-points, while AT&T improved by one point.
  • Bright House Networks—last year’s top-rated TV service provider—dropped eight percentage-points since 2014, while Cox Communications dropped seven percentage points over the last year.
  • Dish Network’s success score declined more than any other TV service provider’s, dropping by 10 percentage-points between 2014 and 2015. Meanwhile, Cox Communication’s effort and emotion score declined the most in the industry; its effort scored dropped by 12 points over the last year, and its emotion score dropped by 8 points over the last year.
  • Despite scoring above average for both the emotion and effort component—4.4 and 4.1 percentage-points above average respectively—DirecTV scored 3.1 points below average for the success component.

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Internet Service Providers Set the Lowest Bar in Customer Experience

We recently released the 2015 Temkin Experience Ratings that ranks the customer experience of 293 companies across 20 industries based on a survey of 10,000 U.S. consumers.

With a rating of 51%, Internet service providers have the lowest average score of any of the 20 industries we evaluated. The industry’s average decreased by 4.3 percentage-points over the past year, down from 56% in 2014. This is the largest decline in average rating for any industry.

Here are some highlights from the Internet service providers’ results:

  • Optimum earned the highest rating in the industry with a score of 60%, putting it in 207th place overall. Optimum is a newcomer to the Ratings, and knocked last year’s winner AOL out of the top-spot.
  • With a rating of 45%, Comcast is the lowest-scoring Internet service provider for the second year in a row. Comcast’s score dropped two percentage-points since 2014, and this year, the company ranked 289th out of 293 companies.
  • Of the eight Internet service providers that we looked at both last year and this year, not a single company’s score increased. Verizon’s rating stayed the same at 57%, while every other company’s score declined. Time Warner dropped the most, going down eight percentage-points, while Cox Communications dropped seven points, and AOL dropped six points.
  • With a rating of 45%, Comcast is the lowest-scoring Internet service provider for the second year in a row. Comcast’s score dropped two percentage-points since 2014, and this year, the company ranked 289th out of 293 companies.

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H-E-B and Trader Joe’s Earn Highest Emotion Ratings

In a previous post, I defined the three elements of an experience: Success, Effort, and Emotion.

Emotion is a significant blind spot for most organizations. In the Temkin Group report State of CX Metrics, 2013, we found that only 11% of large companies feel that they do a very good job of measuring customers’ emotional responses. Our ROI of Customer Experience, 2014 shows that emotion is the most significant driver of loyalty, especially when it comes to consumers recommending firms to their friends.

We’ve been measuring emotion as part of our Temkin Experience Ratings for four years. Our emotion rating is based on asking consumers the following question:

Thinking of your most recent interactions with each of these companies, how did you feel about those interactions?

Responses range from 1 (upset) to 7 (delighted) and the emotion rating is calculated as the percentage of consumers who select 6 or 7 minus the percentage who select 1, 2, or 3.

As you can see in the list of leaders and laggards below (from ratings of 268 companies across 19 industries based on a survey of 10,000 U.S. consumers), H-E-B earned the highest overall emotion rating of 84%, outpacing second place Trader Joe’s by three points.

At the other end of the spectrum, Empire BCBS earned the l0west rating of 31% and several companies were just slightly better with 32%: Comcast (Internet and TV service), Charter Communications, and US Cellular.

1411_EmotionLeadersLaggards

The bottom line: Stop ignoring how your customers feel.

H-E-B Earns Highest Effort Rating, Medicaid Earns Lowest

In a previous post, I defined the three elements of an experience: Success, Effort, and Emotion. We’ve been measuring each of these areas as part of our Temkin Experience Ratings for four years. So I decided to share some insights from the effort ratings component of those overall ratings (you can see this data as part of the Temkin Experience Ratings datasets).

As you can see in the charts below (from ratings of 268 companies across 19 industries based on a survey of 10,000 U.S. consumers):

  • H-E-BFood LionBurger KingChick-fil-APublixcredit unionsSonic Drive-InTrader Joe’sDairy QueenKroger, Little Caesar’sStarbucksPiggly Wiggly, and Regions have the highest effort ratings.
  • MedicaidEmpire (BCBS), Coventry Health CareHighmark (BCBS), Motel 6Super 8Residence InnHitachiHaierComcastUS Airways, and Chrysler have the lowest effort ratings.
  • Grocery chains and fast food chains have the highest average effort ratings while health plans, TV service providers, Internet service providers, and hotels have the lowest.
  • Led by a five point improvement in credit cards, 13 out of the 19 industries improved between 2013 and 2014.
  • Hotels dropped eight points from 2013 to 2014, by far the largest of the three industries that declined. the others: parcel delivery services and retailers.

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Comcast (and Telcos) Must Improve Horrific Customer Service

When Ryan Block tried to cancel his Comcast service, he ran into a customer interaction from hell. The call was so bad that he recorded part of it and posted it online. The insanity of the conversation has driven it viral.

My take: I don’t think that the problem is a mis-trained rep, which is what Comcast claimed in its official response. Block is one of many, many people who have suffered through painful interactions with Comcast. The company “earned” the bottom two spots in the 2014 Temkin Customer Service Ratings, falling well below 231 other organizations. This type of pervasive problem stems from systemic issues, not from how a specific rep behaves.

While Comcast is the worst offender, bad customer service is an epidemic across the entire telecom sector, especially in TV service and Internet service. So Comcast is merely the worst of a bad bunch.

1405_TCSR_IndustryThe problem with the firms in these industries is that most of them grew up with geographic monopoly power. Without any viable competitors, their operating cultures focused on exploiting customers, not on satisfying them. As competition increased, they reacted poorly by starting a frenzy to acquire new customers and then doing whatever they can to entrap those customers.

Here are three recommendations for the entire telecom industry:

  1. Reward customer loyalty, not disloyalty. Any company that provides better pricing and service for new customers than it does for existing customers is institutionalizing disloyalty. Stop this practice. Focus more on holding on to good, loyal customers than pining for new customers. Sales from new customers might decline in the short-run, but the increase in retention and word of mouth will improve the business in the long-run. This revised focus will align internal incentives with a focus on improving customer experience.
  2. Build CX competencies, not a new veneer. The experiences that customers see are a reflection of how the company operates. So improving and sustaining good customer experience will requires organizations to build four CX core competencies: Purposeful Leadership, Employee Engagement, Compelling Brand Values, and Customer Connectedness. Want to know how you’re company is doing? Complete Temkin Group’s CX Competency & Maturity Assessment and compare your results to our benchmark of large organizations.
  3. Benchmark yourself against CX leaders, not each other. If telecom companies compare themselves to each other, then they don’t look too bad. Comcast is only marginally worse than Time Warner Cable or Charter Communications. Stop fooling yourself. It’s not good enough to be better than your peers, they’re also pretty bad. Set your sites on delivering customer service like USAA and Amazon.com.

The bottom line: Telecom firms need to build loyalty, not acquire customers.

 

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