Last week the social world was buzzing with the news story that went viral. In case you hadn’t heard, a Comcast representative was recorded when assisting a customer to disconnect service. Suffice it to say, the conversation didn’t go very well, and the Comcast representative handled the call very poorly, insisting that the customer explain why they didn’t want to continue service, and to insist that they keep Comcast as their service provider.
While the situation was definitely handled in a poor manner, and Comcast had some damage control to do since the recording went viral, it gave me pause in the way companies train their staff who handle customer issues and resolution.
It reminded me a little of a telemarketing company I worked for one summer during college. We were calling with a variety of products, from credit cards to globes. Telemarketing is a tough industry, but what made it tougher was when the company insisted that we could not end a call until a customer said “no” three times. Three. And the calls were recorded and monitored, and representatives would get in trouble if this policy was not honored.
I fully understand probing for more information in an attempt to save the sale, I really do. But sometimes, it’s not warranted. A good customer service representative should know when to keep trying, and when to realize that there is no saving a sale, and have the ability to adjust their performance accordingly.
By pushing certain policies and procedures, offering little to no flexibility in certain situations, is setting up representatives to fail. I am not necessarily saying this is the case at Comcast – this certainly could be a situation where the employee was reprimanded for closing too many accounts, or didn’t follow procedure at all and never attempted to save the sale, thus putting his employment on the line, which resulted in him pushing too hard with this particular customer, setting off an unfortunate chain of events all the way around. However, cases like this serve as a good reminder to have strong policies in place, but realize that not everything is black and white in the world of customer service. By creating policies and empowering representatives to make decisions based on a specific circumstance, it is a win-win situation for all involved – employees won’t be pushed to the point of no return, and customers won’t feel like they have to fight to have their needs met, especially when stopping a service is concerned.
The good news? It looks like Comcast is admitting that perhaps their expectations need to be looked at, especially when dealing with customer retention. As recently quoted in an article written at the Consumerist:
“The agent on this call did a lot of what we trained him and paid him — and thousands of other Retention agents — to do,” continues Watson. “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,” he admits. “When the company has moments like these, we use them as an opportunity to get better, and that’s what we’re going to do. We will review our training programs, we will refresh our manager on coaching for quality, and we will take a look at our incentives to ensure we are rewarding employees for the right behaviors. We can, and will, do better.”