A day in the life of a Comcast Twitter punching bag...
The technology media has been endlessly fascinated with the fact that Comcast has hired someone to watch Twitter
24/7 in order to address customer complaints. While we correspond constantly with representatives from Verizon, AT&T, Time Warner Cable and Cablevision via Twitter, none seem to get the media attention Comcast's Frank Eliason does -- in part because Eliason isn't just there as a PR agent -- he takes customer punches (and there are a lot
of punches) directly on the chin. Business Week
this week tracked Eliason through a typical day of Comcast support.
Eliason discovered that by doing a search for the word "Comcast" (and occasionally "Comcrap"), he could find tweeters who just happened to mention service complaints he could address. In December 2008, he celebrated the handling of his 22,000th tweet...Eliason stresses that Twitter is not a replacement for phone and e-mail help. "This is just one way people have gotten to know us," says Eliason. "It's a little more personal. More back-and-forth discussions, and it's less formal. And it gives immediacy to interactions."
The move should help Comcast's traditionally dismal showing in the JD Power
customer satisfaction rankings. We've watched Frank (and his helpers ComcastBill and ComcastGeorge) work and they really are helping customers quickly break through any support logjams. While they're being used as a last line of defense right now, one wonders what happens when more and more customers start contacting Frank and company before -- or instead of -- calling support.
I sent a tweet to Frank and received the response that he would simply get a larger staff. "Actually Twitter itself would be scalable because of search and ability to assign with right application," says Frank. Somewhere you get the idea there's a Comcast mid-level manager who doesn't like how this initiative messes with his/her support call spreadsheets. Still, the "Comcast Cares" experiment continues, and seems to be working.
But while the new initiative addresses the symptoms of the customer support disease (customer complaints), it's not clear that Comcast has yet gotten to the root causes -- which is very frequently low quality subcontracted labor
, or deep rooted billing and support system dysfunction. Still, it's a step in the right direction, and the mainstream technology media's dumbfounded fascination with Frank is giving Comcast oodles of positive, free press.