For Good Customer Service Use All Channels, Speak with One Voice
This weekend I experienced intermittent outages from my Comcast Internet Service (now Xfinity). In a moment of IP lucidity, I was able to connect to the Comcast website and login. I was promptly informed that the Internet, phones an television were all experiencing issues in my area. They knew of the problem and they were on it.
Given I was trying to work and was unable to, I promptly popped off a note to customer service stating the nature of my experience, covering that I knew they knew a problem existed and asking for a credit on my next statement.
And then the customer service fun began. Well, it began after the intermittent outage was finally resolved.
The first e-mail told me that Comcast couldn’t find any problems in my area, and instructed me on how to explore issues with my internal networking.
I promptly responded that I am a technology analyst and I know the problem wasn’t mine. In fact, I reminded them that their own system reported the problem to me. The only reason I contact them was to request the credit.
This followed with more apologies and more cut-and-paste customer service verbiage.
Then the kicker: “in order to receive a credit you will have to call our customer service department.”
Finally, I said, “you know, I’m not feeling the Comcast Customer Service Guarantee and if they want to talk to me, perhaps they should initiate a call.”
The next e-mail offered a $20 credit and I said: “Thank You.”
Here’s the customer service advice: if you are going to use multiple customer interaction channels, then all of those channels should be authorized to do anything that any other channel should do, unless, and it needs to be stated quickly and precisely, that the channel isn’t secure enough for the transaction. At that point, the organization should initiate the channel change, not expect the customer to do so.
If a channel change is required, the organization should initiate the channel change, not expect the customer to do so.
In my case, I was logged into their system when I initiated the customer service e-mail. I was a known legitimate customer. The transaction that eventually took place should have taken place with fewer interactions, and thus, quicker resolve. I should never have been asked to call them. They know my number, they provide my service.
The next time you get into an e-mail, instant messaging or other alternative channel customer service exchange, demand that they problem get resolved in the channel you as the customer chose as the start-point. Customer service means meeting the customer at their point of origin, and if the organization can’t handle that, they should either unplug the channel or set clear expectations about what the channel can and cannot accommodate and follow through with those.
In my case, I understood it might be up to 24-hours for a response. I wasn’t contacting them to fix the service, I was contacting them about a credit, which required no immediate response, but it did require listening and responding to the actual request, not inventing a dialog that I didn’t initiate.
The second piece of advice: Read the text or listen to the words that the customer using, and respond to what they really want, not what you think they want. For instance, don’t respond to a billing credit request with home router diagnostics. That is not customer service.
So Comcast, thank you for the credit. I hope you learned something, and via this post, my readers and the organizations they work for can apply the lesson proactively.