OMG Comcast, Pls Help!

The Internet has given
customers a digital soapbox to
voice their opinions about the
companies they do business with
— the good, the bad and the ugly.

People can instantly broadcast
their thoughts through
posts on Twitter, Facebook
and blogs, where they’re read
by millions. And many times,
they’re complaining bitterly
about their service.

Now Comcast, for one, is exploring
ways to feed customer gripes
from social networks into its traditional
call-center processes
and systems. By adding more
automation, the operator could
potentially resolve customer
complaints much more quickly
and effectively, according to
Marty Marcinczyk, Comcast’s
vice president of business and
technical solutions for customer

“It’s a challenge today. Just like
any new contact channel, we have
started to receive these interactions
in a manual way,” he said.

About three years ago, Comcast
— the biggest U.S. cable operator,
with 23.2 million video
customers — got a jump on handling
customer complaints and
comments through social-media
networks. That was largely the doing
of Frank Eliason, the MSO’s
“Twitter man,” who set up and
monitored the Twitter handle @

Eliason this summer joined
Citibank, where he’s involved in
social-media marketing efforts,
but Comcast’s efforts in the area
continue apace.

Today, about 10 employees
monitor Twitter, Facebook, blogs
using Google’s blog search and
dozens of RSS feeds to see if there
are Comcast subscribers out
there in need of assistance.

“We were somewhat on the
forefront in engaging with customers
through social media,”
Marcinczyk said.

Along those same lines, Comcast
recently introduced a
text-messaging service to let
customers get information and
contact the operator’s customer
support through their mobile

The amount of customer contact
Comcast currently handles
through social-media channels is
a miniscule percentage. The MSO
logs roughly 10,000 or so customer
interactions per week via Twitter
— whereas it processes about
1 million customer interactions
every day across the country
overall, primarily over the phone.

“The vast majority [of our customer
support] is still through the
traditional methods,” Marcinczyk
The use of social media is expected
to rise dramatically,
though, and Comcast wants to
be ready.

Comcast is working with Cisco
Systems, one of its key call-center
technology suppliers, which
has developed a new tool to try to
identify and automatically import
customer help requests through
social media.

“E-mail is a good foundation,”
John Hernandez, general manager
of Cisco’s Customer Contact
Business Unit, said. “But
with social media, the difference
is the speed with which an
individual expects a response.”

For e-mail, 24 hours may be an
acceptable time window to a customer
awaiting an answer. “On
Facebook or Twitter, people expect
more or less an immediate
response,” Hernandez said.

The social-media
add-on application
works within the
Cisco Unified Contact
Center portfolio.
The company
began testing the
product in mid-July
with its first beta
customers and now
has about 15 wouldbe
clients kicking
the tires — and a
few that are using it right out of
the gate, according to Hernandez.

Cisco plans to officially launch
the product at the company’s Collaboration
Partner Summit 2010
Nov. 16 to 18 in Phoenix.

The product delivers a “social
screen pop” to an agent. According
to Hernandez, the
Cisco tool can glean additional
clues — such as, say, the
geographic location of a specific
tweet — to help authenticate
a customer’s identity: “It
gives us a better, well-rounded
view of who that person is.”

Comcast is in the exploratory
phase of integrating that type
of functionality into the call center,
said Marcinczyk, who sits on
the customer-advisory boards for
Avaya, Cisco and Alcatel-Lucent’s
Genesys subsidiary.

“As we communicate with customers,
they’re liking that we’re
more open and honest and that
we’re not just a behemoth of a
company,” he said.

Comcast is “definitely a leader
of the pack” when it comes to
approaching customer care in a
social media context, Cisco’s Hernandez

“Some companies are listening
but not really engaging,” he said.
“Comcast is doing proactive customer
care. Now the question is,
how do you get that next level of
customer care?”

PHILADELPHIA — Rdy to txt yr cable oper8r?

Comcast, as part of its broader strategy to enhance customer service, last month launched the
“Comcast4U” text-messaging service that lets subscribers check their accounts, receive info and
request that a service representative give them call.

The Comcast4U mobile short message service is now available to customers in the MSO’s Freedom
Region, which includes Philadelphia and the surrounding suburbs, New Jersey and Northern
Delaware. Comcast said it will roll out nationwide over the course of the next few months, with most
customers expected to have access by the first half of 2011.

Customers can sign up for or deactivate Comcast4U at Once registered,
they can text commands to “COMCAST” (short code 266278).

Commands available through the service include “BAL,” which provides current account balance;
“OUT,” which indicates whether there’s a known service outage in the customer’s area; “HIT,” which
sends a reset signal to a customer’s equipment; “NOW,” which provides a list of what’s on TV at that
moment; “PRIMETIME,” which lists that night’s primetime TV lineup; and “VOD,” which provides
highlights of on-demand content.

In addition, customers who register for Comcast4U will receive periodic text messages providing
updates and information about their Comcast products and services, such as appointment reminders,
payment confirmation, service alert information and account due/past due notices.

The CTAM Summit in New Orleans (at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside) has sessions scheduled to drill into the use of social media for marketers:

Tuesday, Oct. 19, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., extended session and lunch, Grand Ballroom A:
“Half-Day Social Media Immersion: Stretching Beyond the Obvious.”

Description: Social media has rapidly become a powerful force in connecting people
as well as ideas, and examples of effectively harnessing it as a marketing tool are exploding
all around us. Discover effective ways content providers, distributors and other industry
marketers are reaching tech savvy consumers and building audience engagement
through case examples, proven planning insights and campaign integration strategies.

Speakers: John Bell, managing director, Ogilvy PR’s 360° Digital Influence Practice;
John McGarry III, chief digital officer, McGarry Bowen; Chris Moseley, SVP of
marketing, History; Jane Olson, senior VP, marketing and brand strategy, Oxygen
Media; Eric Shih, director of business development, Scripps Networks Digital.

Moderator: Joe Marchese, president, SocialVibe Network and columnist, MediaPost.

Emcees: Graeme Newell, president and founder, 602 Communications; Paul Sewards,
managing director, Barker/DZP

Wednesday, Oct. 20, 9 a.m.-10:15 a.m., breakout session, Grand Ballroom A: “We’ve
Got an App for That ... Engaging Customers in Relevant Ways.”

Description: The buzz around apps such as mobile marketing, 2D bar codes, voice-totext
and click-to-buy abounds. Know which to use and when to use it as a critical step in
building your brand, announcing product launches and sharing program information by
leveraging sponsorships and remote connectivity through new technology features.
Panelists: Benjamin Davis III, CEO, Phizzle; Kathy Filosa, VP, direct marketing, Cablevision
Systems; Jason Gaedtke, group VP, Web services, Time Warner Cable; Anand
Raman, CEO, Extend Mobility; Ken Willner, CEO, Zumobi.