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Comcast Empowers Customer-Care Crews

Comcast, the biggest U.S. cable
company, has had some well-publicized
customer-service incidents in recent years:
the YouTube video of a technician asleep on
a customer’s couch and the Web site stand out among them.

Company executives
recognized improving
Comcast ’s
image and reality was
a priority, and three
years ago began a series
of initiatives that continue today.

One was deploying new software —
“Grand Slam” — that gave customer-service
agents and field technicians the ability
to recognize and diagnose problems in every
device in the customer’s home. The software
also lets technicians and customer-care
agents determine whether the problem is
isolated to one customer or is more widespread,
enabling Comcast to fix a problem
before more complaints roll in, senior director
of corporate communications Jenni
Moyer said.

Comcast also introduced a 30-day moneyback
guarantee and gives customers a $20 rebate
if a technician misses an appointment. If
Comcast needs to roll a truck more than once
to solve a problem, it provides an “appreciation
credit” of three free months of a premium
service of the customer’s choosing.

It’s also communicating with customers
via social media outlets.

Cumulatively, the company’s efforts led to declare recently
that the MSO “has finally seen the light.”

With infrastructure and customer-interface
issues addressed, Comcast last year looked
inward to employee training and empowerment,
something other cable companies,
including Insight Communications,
have also realized (“Better Service Through
Coaching,” June 21, 2010, page 28).

“We had a solid foundation and the tools in
place to better serve our customers,” said Tina
Waters, senior vice president of human performance,
national customer operations. “We
realized we needed to amp up our employee
focus and training. We focused on our supervisors.
Based on their input, we created MOSS
— Make Our Supervisors Successful.”
This program, introduced last fall as a pilot
project in an undisclosed cable territory,
gives supervisors of customer-care agents and
technicians special training and a new focus
as employee coaches.

Early results were encouraging, according
to Donna Perkins, vice president of customercare
During the three-month
trial that ran until
the end of 2009, she
said, escalation calls
(when a customer asks
to speak to a manager or supervisor) fell off by
33% and incremental sales picked up 10% in
the region that included the MOSS territory.

MOSS is designed so that 60% to 70% of a
supervisor’s time is dedicated to coaching
and empowering front-line employees to be
more successful, Waters said.

Supervisors undergo an extensive training
process from Comcast University to
better develop leadership and coaching
skills, as well as expertise in time management.

“We have 20 regions, and it’s really important
that senior leaders listen to their employees,”
Waters said. MOSS, she said, “is a
culture change, not a leadership program.
We need open communication in both directions
to make this work.”

Case in point: Front-line call-center staffers told Waters and her team they didn’t
want to jump through a bunch of hoops or
have to transfer a customer to another agent
to solve a customer’s problem. They wanted
the power to solve the problem themselves.

“That’s how the money-back guarantee
and $20 credit were created,” Waters said.
“They are empowering for both the CSRs and
techs and the customers feel they are being
taken care of.”

Comcast is now methodically rolling MOSS
out to the rest of its 20 regions around the
country, following the three-month trial.

Waters said Comcast plans to introduce
MOSS in eight regions this year, and in its
remaining territories rest next year.

This article was corrected on July 12. The original version misidentified Tina Watersas Tina Powers.



  • Its American Customer Satisfaction Index score improved 3.4% year-over-year in
    2010, a second consecutive year of improvement. The score is up 13% since 2008.
  • Its internal surveys say 80% of customers report the company resolved the issue on
    the first call and 94% report a technician arrived on time when one was needed.
  • Its internal surveys say customer satisfaction is at least 12 percentage points higher
    for customers who are aware of the Customer Guarantee as compared with those
    who are unaware of it.
  • Its internal surveys say customer satisfaction is at least 20 percentage points higher
    for customers who have received a credit under the guarantee.