A lot has already been written about Frank Eliason and the @ComcastCares Twitter customer service story, so I’ll only recap briefly to set the context for my own personal experience.
On June 26, 2006, a Comcast customer uploaded to YouTube this video of a Comcast technician sleeping on their couch:
As of this writing, the video has 1.4 million views. This was before Comcast discovered Twitter but the beginning of the realization of the magnitude of their customer service problem.
The cable industry has a built-in branding problem in their failure to provide ala carte pricing. No one buys the argument that ala carte pricing isn’t a viable economic model, so there is almost uniform resentment because no one really wants to buy stuff they don’t want. That’s what cable television’s current pricing model amounts to.
When people watch their cable television, they are not experiencing the brand of the cable provider, they’re experiencing the brands that are communicated through their provider through programming and commercials.
The one consistent branding experience customers have with their cable provider is when they pay their bill and that is invariably a negative experience because of that resentment. Now, pile on top of that cable companies’ historic poor customer service, and…you get the picture.
Now, I’m a media omnivore. I get all the digital tiers, I get premium channels, I get HD; I pay a lot of money to Comcast every month and I’ve been a customer for more than a decade, so I feel righteously entitled to superior customer service.
How Frank Eliason Turned Me Into A Comcast Brand Evangelist
Sometime shortly after Mr. Eliason launched the @ComcastCares Twitter account, my DVR went on the fritz. I tried to get it fixed over the phone but they determined it was fried and I’d have to go to downtown Saint Paul to exchange the box for a new one.
Fine. I’d had the box for a few years and this stuff happens, so no biggie. I did have to take time off work to go exchange the thing but that was only mildly annoying.
I got it home and installed it and, of course, I couldn’t get it to work. I called customer service the requisite three times only to discover the inevitable: They couldn’t resolve it over the phone so they’d have to send a technician out to fix it, for which I’d have to take time off from work between 8 a.m. and noon to wait for them to arrive.
Now, my blood was starting to boil. Seriously? They can’t make precise appointments so I only have to miss two hours of work rather than half a day?
But then I remembered the Comcast Twitter account, so I DMed Frank, told him I had a customer service issue, and asked for his email. I emailed him a long, detailed email about my problem and why, as a long-time customer, I expected quality customer service.
Within an hour of sending that email, a Comcast technician was at my door, DVR in hand, and was soon at work installing the thing. He stayed long enough to ensure that it was working properly and before he left he gave me his cell phone number and told me to call him in an hour, regardless of whether or not there was a problem.
An hour after he left, I got a call from the St. Paul office. We got an email from Frank Eliason, they said, indicating that you had a problem with your cable; how can we help? I’m all good, I said. Your guy has already been here and fixed it, thank you very much.
An hour after that, the original technician called me back to make sure everything was all right.
When people get frustrated by customer service these days, they often take out their aggravation on Twitter or Facebook and let their networks know about their experience. That was my first instinct until I remembered @ComcastCares.
My experience turned me from someone who was entirely likely to hate on Comcast to his online network to someone who tells this story to anyone who will listen.
So what Frank Eliason has done by actively seeking out people on Twitter with customer service problems, is to 1) quiet some of the people who are most likely to shout the loudest to the most number of people about their problems and 2) turn those very same people into Comcast fans.
For those reasons, Comcast deserves the accolades they’re getting for their Twitter customer service and as the poster child case study for online customer service.
Brian Roberts, Comcast CEO, Discusses How Twitter Has Changed Company Culture
Finally, an interview with Comcast’s CEO about how the Comcast Cares Twitter channels have changed the company’s culture.
Found at Fora.tv.