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 just don’t haver a clue.

I had to make a couple of calls this morning to a couple of different service providers: Comcast (yikes, right?) and ADT. Our office in Chicago is served by both of these vendors – we get our internet service via Comcast Business and our security system is from ADT. I have not had complaints for either company about the overall quality of their products and I have found the equipment they each provide to be 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 company stationary 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. Delivering great customer service is like Tina Fey’s first rule of improvisation: you are required to agree with whatever your partner has created; in other words, the very best customer service agents know that the right answer for a frustrated customer is “SAY YES!”

Phot, Wikimedia Commons: Godzilla Raids Again (1955)