Lean Business: Why Comcast Stomps ADT’s Customer Service

Customer service ain’t easy. It takes a combination of the right people, the right training, the right tools, and the right attitude.

Lots of companies get this right, but most don’t have a clue.

Great customer service can be a big differentiator when you start your business. If incumbents do a poor job at customer service, you can quickly win loyal customers by delivering world-class service.

I had to make a couple of calls this morning to a couple of different service providers: Comcast (yikes, right?) and ADT.

Both of these vendors serve our office in Chicago – we get our internet service via Comcast Business, and our security system is from ADT.

I have not had complaints about either company concerning the overall quality of their products, and I have found the equipment they provide reliable.

Here’s what happened: I had to call each company to make a change in our service.

First came ADT. After inputting my account number and navigating through several levels of voice commands, I was put through to an agent. I told her what the change was, and she asked several questions and then told me I had to speak to someone in the “small business group.”

OK, fine, even though I had already been on the phone for almost 10 minutes. After listening to their hod music for another 5 or 6 minutes, a different agent came on and asked me for my account number and proceeded to ask all of the same questions I had just answered. By now, 12 minutes had elapsed, and I was starting to get a little impatient. Finally, the agent told me that she could not help me over the phone and that I would have to send a signed letter on the company stationery requesting the change.

What? By now, my frustration is starting to boil over, and I (of course) asked to speak with a supervisor. What a shock when the agent told me repeatedly that “there is no supervisor available.” Long story short, I ultimately was placed on hold (again) and finally put through to corporate headquarters customer service for a resolution, but only after my ears had been through steam-cleaned.

My next call was to Comcast, and I must admit I was dreading it. Can anyone out there name a company with a weaker reputation in the support realm?

I can’t.

Well, guess what? The experience with Comcast was the polar opposite of that with ADT. After the requisite voice menus, I was put through to a single agent (Marvin), who was efficient, courteous, and helpful.

Marvin had me off the phone in under 5 minutes and left me with a smile on my face. No frustration, no raised blood pressure, and no messing around. What a relief.

From there were several takeaways, and one important lesson learned: the art of great customer service is dependent on the person delivering it.

Sure, companies have to work hard to build policies and processes that allow their people to do a great job, but without the right person making the right decisions and listening closely to the customer on the other end of the phone, it will all be for naught.