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A Kinder, Gentler Comcast
A day in the life of a Comcast Twitter punching bag...
by Karl Bode 07:09PM Tuesday Jan 13 2009
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."
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The move should help Comcast's traditionally dismal showing in the JD Power and ACSI 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.

63 comments .. click to read

Recommended comments

Just Me
Everett, WA

2 recommendations

reply to fiberguy

Re: Does not care.




Rick Scott
Everett, Washington

Premium,ExMod 2000-03
La Grange, IL

2 recommendations

reply to Camelot One

Re: Not surprising at all

Too little, way too late. During the 50 minutes I sat on hold last week I decided enough was enough. When a Comcast agent finally got around to my call told him that instead of dropping to a lower tier I was dropping them entirely. The dish went up today, and it'll cost half what Comcast was charging. Screw 'em.

This Twitter nonsense is little more than a PR move. If they were really trying to improve customer service you would not have to sit on hold with them during weekday business hours for almost an hour to get anything done.
Toolmaster of La Grange.