Comcast Disconnects Itself (Yet Again): What Happens When Employee Rewards are NOT Aligned Customer Experiences. And No – It Isn’t Pretty.


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It can be fun to see how disconnected some larger firms act when a customer’s needs or actions don’t neatly fit into a pre-scripted box – unless, of course, you’re the customer. Winner of the hotly-contested “Worst Company in America” tournament for the second time earlier this year, Comcast again proves its mettle by publicly dispelling any doubt that they deserved to win.

In a straight-down-the-fairway example of how NOT to deliver excellent customer experience, a Comcast customer service rep makes Ryan Block’s decision to cancel his account a painfully oppressive exercise, as well as – we can only hope – an object lesson for companies everywhere. After 10 minutes of escalating intransigence on the part of the “customer retention” rep, Mr. Block decided to start recording the call.

The verbal abuse he endured will make you cringe, and may well make you angry. And you won’t be alone. The recording has been listened to well over 5 million times, putting Comcast on the defensive – publicly stating that the reps behavior was “unacceptable and not consistent with how we train our customer service representatives.” A statement which any of us who has worked with or in large companies recognizes is almost certainly BS.


Your employees will do exactly what they are incented to do.

Notwithstanding Comcast’s protestations, the fact is virtually all employees behave in the ways they are incented to behave. If, as it appears in this case, the service rep would say almost anything to keep Mr. Block from leaving, it’s safe to assume that he was either rewarded for keeping or penalized for losing him. This is common behavior, based on human nature. What it isn’t, is a surprise.

For example, when people are rewarded for making sales – whether through formal (raises and promotions) or informal (awards, events and parking spots, for example) rewards – they’re going to make sales. Even if that means calling a customer who was recently sold an auto loan in an attempt to get her to buy another. When they’re rewarded for meeting customer needs, the question becomes just that – what might she need, that we have to offer?

I know that shifting to a system where employees are rewarded for solving customer problems and delivering “win/win” experiences can be a really big challenge. Because in most companies, employees aren’t clear on which customers drive value, what touchpoints and experiences are most important to them, or what their individual roles and responsibilities are when it comes to delivering better customer experiences. This can – and needs to – change.

Six Questions: Aligning Employee Behaviors with Desired Customer Experience

Customer-centricity starts with an understanding of your customer, their needs, and their expectations. Here are a handful of questions designed to help you do just that:

  • Have you (reasonably) empowered your employees to solve customer problems, and to improve customer experiences?
  • Does your onboarding process help new hires understand their role in serving customers?
  • Are your reward structures in alignment with the needs and desired actions of your most valuable customers?
  • Is your brand – and the customer experience that it promises – clearly articulated and understood by all your people?
  • Do you reward (recognize, compensate and promote) your employees for serving the needs of your customers?
  • Have you created (and shared) crystal-clear profiles – persona – of your most valuable customers and their needs, across your company?

When a company enables and rewards employees in these ways, customers notice the difference. Do what you need to do to begin answering “yes” to these questions, and your company will become more customer-centric and consistently more responsive to customer needs.

The truth is, if you want your employees to put the needs of your customers first, your employees must be both motivated and enabled to do so – and great customer experiences will follow.

There’s little doubt that near-monopolies such as Comcast don’t really need to care about these things in other than a pro-forma manner – yet. But that is changing. As more smart, customer centric companies nibble at the edges of their business, disruption will eventually follow. When it does, the winners will be those that really do put the needs of their customers first. And that’s a tournament I suspect Comcast won’t do quite so well in…

Republished with author's permission from original post.


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