The cautionary tale of Comcast.
Earlier this week, Ryan Block and his wife, Veronica Belmont, tried to cancel their Comcast service. The Comcast customer service representative would have none of it, however, angrily pressing Block for a reason why he’d possibly want to cancel the number one service in the country – for 18 minutes. Only problem was, Block works in the media, and saw an opportunity for a story, so he started to record the conversation half way through the phone call.
What happened next became the worst possible brand scenario. Block posted the entire eight-minute recording to SoundCloud, and it went massively viral. You can listen to it, in its entirety, here (and you may not believe what you’re hearing.)
No amount of “branding” can counteract that.
Perhaps you can relate to the above recording – and why it was played over five million times in the past week. We’ve all had experiences like this, at least to some degree, at some time or other. And no matter how good Comcast might be with its other branding elements, like corporate identity or advertising, at the end of the day, all that matters is the experience the customer has had with the company and its offerings.
The recording above makes it clear that at least some of Comcast’s customers are not having a good experience.
Worse for Comcast is that not only has the recording gone viral, but the media picked it up and turned it into a major news story. So now, we all know about it.
This, at a time when Comcast is trying to make the case for acquiring Time Warner, claiming it will improve service to all of its customers.
Comcast has a lot of work to do.
Cultivate a culture of caring.
The problem is not with the service representative (though, intuitively, he should have known better). It’s with Comcast’s culture. Obviously, the culture is not emphasizing providing the best possible customer experience – even if that means letting a customer go.
Let’s say the service representative had politely and promptly cancelled Block’s service, thanked him genuinely for being a customer, and asked how Comcast might improve its service in order to have a chance to win him back in the future. Block might have been so pleasantly surprised at this treatment that he would then tell everyone what a great experience he just had with Comcast, even though he was canceling! Comcast would have come across as a class act.
Now, this positive message probably wouldn’t have gone viral. BUT, if every Comcast customer got this level of service (Comcast has over 20 million customers), and each person told just one friend about this great service, then that would be over 20 million additional people receiving this positive message – a branding coup for Comcast.
Comcast needs to create a culture that promotes providing the best customer care, hire people who can passionately embrace such a culture, and then train and empower them to do be able to make customers feel like royalty.
That will do more for Comcast’s brand than any amount of advertising, promotional deals, logo redesigns, or any other branding exercise.
Perhaps, this negative experience gone viral is the best thing that could have happened to Comcast. It’s a phenomenal wake up call to get its culture in order.
Take a good, honest look at your own company’s culture. How strongly does it emphasize and reward treating customers well? For that matter, how strongly does it emphasize and reward treating employees well? Because, happy employees will naturally spread that happiness to the customers they interact with.
Here are a couple of posts from the ZUZA Marketer’s Blog that will give you more perspective on culture and brand:
Here’s the Marketing Champion in all of us. See you in the next post.