Posted tagged ‘AT&T’

The Markets Are Changing

March 5, 2008

tre-cover.jpgWhile the benefits of the social web are innumerable, one amazing characteristic of the social web is that it is changing the marketplace. We are seeing major companies, like the cable giant Comcast, sit up and take notice of what their clients and customers are saying on within the open networks of the emerging space.

For instance, when we wrote about the poor customer service of Comcast compared with AT&T, we got a phone call from one of the Comcast execs not asking us to discontinue expressing our displeasure or to remove the post, but rather to inform us that measures are being taken to improve customer service – which, the caller admitted, has been at times “bad” – and customer satisfaction.

The social web is making companies take notice of what the masses are saying. Facebook groups like “The Conversation on Comcast” are allowing people the forums to express their thoughts about the company – both good and bad – without going to the trouble of actually creating a blog devoted to the subject.

As social networking strategist Jay Deragon says in his blog, “The social web is the new marketplace of influence fueled by conversations and relationships formed at the intersection of people and technology.” Concerns are being expressed in these conversations or “rivers” and Comcast execs are starting to take action. When other/more companies start to realize that though their customers aren’t telling them directly, they aren’t necessarily happy with services or products, The Relationship Economy will be in full swing!

The market is changing. It’s becoming better informed, better connected, and smarter than ever before. The influence is moving from the big to the small; from the companies to the individuals – one by one until it reaches Critical Mass. Is YOUR company ready for the shift?

How ’bout it?

Comcast Needs to Rethink Relationships!

February 14, 2008

relationshipeconomy-mid.jpgHow important are relationships to you and your clients?Apparently, Bellsouth/AT&T are more concerned with establishing and maintaining positive relationships than Comcast, the cable television and cable internet giant in middle Tennessee.

On February 12th, we called Comcast to request a service call to put in an internet connection on the second floor of our house. After about 10 minutes of explaining that all we wanted was another line put to the upstairs from the box outside, and that we did not want to run a wall fish or hook up a home-network, the Customer Account “Executive” scheduled a technician to come to our house and do the appropriate work on Friday – three days later, between the hours of 12 and 3 pm.

 So we planned our schedules around our being here from noon until we had to pick our son up from school at 3:00. By 2:20 on Friday afternoon, we were beginning to get a little concerned about being able to get to school by three.

About 2:40, a contractor called to say he was on his way and would be here in about 10 minutes. So we spent two and a half hours sitting at home waiting for someone who wasn’t going to show until the window almost closed. The frustration built.

The service tech was named Nathan, and he did an excellent job while he was here. After explaining what we wanted, he told us that though he was supposed to pu in a wall-fish, we didn’t need one – and it would save us about $20 since he was going to simply run a line up to the bedroom.

Again, the service Nathan provided was fine, except for the fact that he put a splitter in the box outside so we could have two internet connections off the same line. Surprisingly, Comcast called the next morning to inquire if the service was satisfactory. We replied that the “service” was fine, but now the computer was running slow while opening and surfing the internet.

The person who called – she didn’t give me her name – asked me to hold while she transferred my call to a CAE. Once again, we spoke with someone and explained that the last time our computer ran this slowly, the service technician fixed the problem by removing the splitter from the outside box on the side of the house. Again, the frustration built.

The woman on the phone said that we probably had spyware on the computer, but she scheduled a service tech to come try to fix the problem almost a full five days later between the hours of 8 and 11 am.

We explained that because we work from home and primarily online, the sooner the service tech could show the better. The Frustration built.

Monday morning, we called the phone company because the phone in the bedroom/office was not working, and the next day – less than 24 hours later – a service tech arrived at our door and within about 30 minutes, the problem had been resolved! But we were still waiting for the internet connection to achieve the “lightning-fast download speeds” that Comcast boasts.

Thursday morning arrived, and we had arranged our schedule to be at home, but not dependent on the internet between 8 and 11. About 9:20, someone from Comcast called to “remind” us that we were scheduled to have a service call between 12 and 3 this afternoon! ARRRGH! We wanted to scream! And again the frustration built.

We calmly but decisively explained that we had arranged for the service call to be between the hours of 8 and 11. Fine. Glad that was taken  care of… But at 10:07, we decided to call Comcast to make sure that the service tech was going to get here within the hour, and Mary, who was just so lucky to take our call, said, “I see down here that you are supposed to have a service call between 12 and 3.” Frustration…reaching… breaking…point!

God bless Mary who-couldn’t-give-her-last-name! She was patient and understanding – even empathetic. Though I tried to remain calm, I knew my blood-pressure was through the roof. I explained the problem again, and told her of the previous call “reminding” us of the scheduled service call. As she tried to find a solution, I cut her off and said, “I understand that you don’t have anything to do with this issue – I haven’t spoken to you before. So can I speak with your supervisor?” Frustration still builds.

She asked if she could put us on hold just for a moment so she could check to see what actions had been taken, and when she came back after about 2 minutes, she apologized for the problem and indicated that she could not tell who had called to remind us earlier. We talked about what actions had been taken and what the outcome would likely be, but here it is, 11:07 am and still no one has shown up.

Sucks for you…

What the point to this entire post is that it seems like whenever Comcast wants to schedule a service call, they can. Because they see clients as a “number” rather than as individuals – each with different needs and concerns – they feel they can do as they please. We cannot hope for better customer/client service as long as the main vendors of services fail to see the value of building Relationships with their clients! Better yet, the entire customer account “team” at Comcast needs to buy and read The Emergence of The Relationship Economy!

How ’bout it?

P.S. Can anyone make a suggestion for a good ISP offering broadband connections?