Comcast's Smit: 'Customer service will be one of our best products'

LAS VEGAS--With Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) lampooned in national media recently after a series of customer service mishaps, Comcast Cable president and CEO Neil Smit told a Consumer Electronics Show panel audience Wednesday that his company is on the way to a significant turnaround.

"We do need to transform our customer experience, and I think we have a lot of work to do," said Smit, receiving a smattering of applause. "It will take time, but we'll get it done. We even took our top product person and put him on it. And we expect that customer service will soon be one of our best products."

Smit was talking about recently appointed "customer service czar" Charlie Herrin, who has recently implemented a number of key customer service improvements and has generally reacted quickly to issues before they could gestate to greater viral media crises.

Speaking alongside John Chambers, chairman and CEO of Cisco, and Werner Struth, member of the board of management at Robert Bosch GmbH, on a panel titled "Fast Innovation: Disrupt or Be Disrupted," Smit was also put on the spot by moderator David Kirkpatrick, who asked the executive whether the FCC will approve Comcast's takeover of Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC).

"Absolutely," Smit said, after a brief awkward pause.

And adhering to the core topic, Smit also addressed what he described as Comcast's "transformation" into a more innovative, more technology oriented company.

"We really did change when we took our technology into the cloud," he said. "We can now move in days and weeks and not months and years. Our patents are up 30 percent over the last four years. It has really invigorated the organization."

For his part, Cisco's Chambers said the pace of innovation must advance significantly, and not just for media technology companies.

Chambers predicted that 40 percent of current Fortune 500 companies will be "existing in a meaningful way" in five years.  

Chambers also took the opportunity to deliver a poke to strong net neutrality.

"Well-meaning regulation can sometimes result in disaster," he said.

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