Comcast memo on terrible customer call: It was “painful to listen to this call”

A Comcast executive writes to discuss the viral audio

Topics: Comcast, customer call, cable, time warner, innovation, technology, ,

Comcast memo on terrible customer call: It was "painful to listen to this call"This Feb. 15, 2011 file photo shows Comcast installation trucks in Pittsburgh. (Credit: AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

Last week a piece of audio went viral. It was an excruciating clip of a call between a customer, Ryan Block, and a Comcast “Customer Account Executive.”

On Monday, a leaked letter, apparently from Comcast’s Chief Operating Officer, Dave Watson, surfaced on Consumerist, and was confirmed by Ars Technica. The letter, which according to Consumerist was posted on the Team Comcast employees’ site, addresses the phone call and Comcast’s practices.

Two things stand out in this letter. First, COO Dave Watson admits that the call was “painful” to listen to, but he also admits that the Comcast employee “did a lot of what we trained him and paid him — and thousands of other Retention agents — to do.”

Watson explains:

“That said, it was painful to listen to this call, and I am not surprised that we have been criticized for it. Respecting our customers is fundamental, and we fell short in this instance. I know these Retention calls are tough, and I have tremendous admiration for our Retention professionals, who make it easy for customers to choose to stay with Comcast. We have a Retention queue because we believe in our products, and because we offer a great value when customers have the right facts to choose the package that works best for them. If a customer is not fully aware of what the product offers, we ask the Retention agent to educate the customer and work with them to find the right solution.”

The most revealing part was in this paragraph:

“The agent on this call did a lot of what we trained him and paid him — and thousands of other Retention agents — to do. He tried to save a customer, and that’s important, but the act of saving a customer must always be handled with the utmost respect. This situation has caused us to reexamine how we do some things to make sure that each and every one of us — from leadership to the front line — understands the balance between selling and listening. And that a great sales organization always listens to the customer, first and foremost.”



It is also important to note, as Consumerist did, that Comcast did not single out the employee, but addressed the issues of the company. And that they pledged to use this embarrassing moment to address policies and “do better.” We can really only hope that they do, as Comcast merges with Time-Warner Cable.

The entire letter can be viewed at Consumerist.

h/t Consumerist, Ars Technica

Sarah Gray is an assistant editor at Salon, focusing on innovation. Follow @sarahhhgray or email sgray@salon.com.

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