. . . with possible improvement if COMmunication improves
Jay Deragon's post Can Comcast Reverse the Storm suggests that Comcast has the opportunity to be a leading brand that leverages the tools of the web for improvement of service and innovation of propositions to their customer base, both personal and business. He suggests that they could be customer service trend-setters and thought leaders, which would be a great improvement over their current ranking by a 2007 J.D.Power survey, that ranked Comcast second-to-last only to Charter in customer service for cable and satellite TX providers. Bob Fernandez, in article in The Seattle Times that Jay quotes, discussed this survey, and noted that in the February issue of Consumer Reports, Comcast ranked ninth of 10 big telecom companies. It was sandwiched between Time Warner Cable, at No. 8, and last-place Charter Communications.
I first got engaged with Comcastic customer service with a post by a (local to me) Nashvillian, named Mark Kerrigan, in a fabulous demonstration of the use of webtime by corporations. Mark was frustrated by the local Comcast office's attempts at customer service, so he went to the best distribution channel he had available -- his blog. Mark had a follow-up appointment (after a three day wait) scheduled from 8-11 AM. He wrote, the breakdown in communication became apparent when someone from Comcast called at 9:28 on the day of service to “remind” us that we were scheduled to have a service tech come out between the hours of 12 and three! I read that post and thought, "good for him, he's demonstrating the communication style needed in The Relationship Economy -- talking out in the open." And the next day, Mark blogged again, and it blew my mind (not that he's not that frequent, but what he was writing :-). Mark reported a phone call from Frank Eliason,with Comcast Corporate. Mark explained how it felt to know he was speaking with someone who could actually do something about the service (or lack of service) provided.
Shortly before this, I had been working with Mike Orshan to start a series of initiatives called The Conversation On . . ., on Facebook, and we had posted the first 50 or so companies from the Fortune 100 (and begun a website, too) to try to organize "the good, the bad, the new, the old, the newsworthy and the hopes regarding the United States number 84 company in revenue." Seeing an opportunity for traction and momentum, we pushed the Comcast group to the front of the line for development. Check out the Facebook Group for more -- if you join, you could be member number 440!
But webtime wasn't over yet with the Facebook group addition . . . the Comcastic Twitter initiative had just launched. Two Comcastians, known as @wscottw3 and @ComcastCares (Scott Westerman and Frank Eliason) started responding to Twitterposts by Comcustomers (who were "venting" about Comcast) like they were personal account managers. I saw a variety of high and low-profile technology folks being helped, and even saw some Twittered follow up posts. Take a peek at how messages are passed on Twitter by @mjlambie, @chrisbrogan, @bloggersblog, and @jowyang. if you aren't familiar with this technology. You can see more at The Comcast Tweet Scan. Scott and Frank are doing so well in addressing the issues that they are getting referrals for both customer service and strategy!
So yes, Jay, I think Comcast can reverse the storm.
They were #84 on Fortune's list (they are #79 now)and they have one heckuvan Internet presence, too! Alexa.com Site Stats for comcast.net show Comcast.net has a traffic rank of: 123 (wow - they were 223 on March 20), and they have been online Since: 25-Sep-1997. But it would take a transition, no, a company-wide transformation, to relationship-based customer serving. As we noted in a previous post, relationship building for businesses seems almost counterintuitive. Back in the day, Customer Relationship Management was the practice of leaving the house, stopping for a cup of coffee at the local diner on the way to work, taking a break to visit with your neighbors who happened to be long-time customers, and generally engaging others in conversations about anything and everything. And that, in webtime, is what it will take to divert this storm.
So how do you engage your customers in webtime? You can use simple tools, like this mini-mashup I got from Steve Rubel to check customer service posts for Comcast (or the company of your choice). You can also search the blogosphere . . . Technorati has 541 blogs listed in a search for Comcast in their aggregated blogs, alone. Now, many of them could be spammer sites, but they all tagged their main blog with Comcast, and at the time this was written, there were individually 2,864 posts tagged with Comcast on Technorati (this should make it # 2,866 if Jay tags his).
But searching these sites, whether manually or automatically, is not the solution. There must be something better!
Imagine a public access portal set up strictly for Comcast communications. In that portal is a live blog collector and a live Twitter stream (among other cool tools). The posts are searchable, sortable by keywords, and threadable. A potentially disgruntled Comcustomer finds the portal (shouldn't be too hard with the search tool of choice) and searches for their specific issue (no service, delay in responding, blocked file transfer, late technician, etc.). They locate an ongoing thread, and see that others, perhaps others in their area, are experiencing the same problem. In this example, the threads will serve as a FAQ section that is updated in real time. Instead of making a new call or sending another email, the Comcustomer can say "me too" by tagging the post or thread with their location or adding a simple comment.
If you really want to kick your imagination into high gear, envision a webcam of the technician speeding to your location . . . That's the webtime way!
What do you think?
Disclaimer: The author is not a subscriber to any cable or satellite TV provider, and has not been one since 1990. Though this may indicate that he does not know much about these providers, it does not indicate that he's unable to know a storm when he sees one. And this, my friends, is a storm!