Comcast taps product exec Herrin to fill new customer service SVP role

Looking to shake a reputation for being too focused on technology innovation and not enough on general subscriber experience, Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) has created a new executive role, senior VP of customer service.

Charlie Herrin, Comcast

Herrin (Source: Comcast)

Filling it will be Charlie Herrin, who--wait for it--previously occupied the title of senior VP of product design and development.

Herrin will report to Dave Watson, executive VP and COO for Comcast Cable, and Neil Smit, president & CEO of Comcast Cable, who revealed the executive move in a Friday blog post.

"Charlie will partner with leaders across all business units, including customer service, technical operations, sales, marketing, training and development, and product innovation to re-imagine the customer experience and ensure that we are delighting our customers at each touch point," Smit wrote. "Charlie will listen to feedback from customers as well as our employees to make sure we are putting our customers at the center of every decision we make."

As it seeks to gain regulatory approval for a $45 billion takeover of Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC), Comcast has seen its customer service acumen increasingly scrutinized.

The infamous audio recording in July of a Silicon Valley executive trying in vain to cancel his cable service was, of course, a tipping point, causing consumer activist groups and tech blogs to tie public approval of the giant cable merger to the poor customer service track records of the Nos. 1 and 2 cable companies.

For his part, Smit seems to at least recognize the issue.

"Over the last few years, we've been incredibly focused on product innovation and delivering great content and technology experiences," he wrote. "But this is only one half of the customer experience equation. The other half is operational excellence in how we deliver service. The way we interact with our customers--on the phone, online, in their homes--is as important to our success as the technology we provide.  Put simply, customer service should be our best product."

Of course, Smit also talked up Herrin as being the right man for the challenge.

"Anyone who knows or has worked with Charlie has seen first-hand his unwavering commitment to the customer," Smit added. "In his most recent role as SVP, product design and development, Charlie led the design team behind the development of X1 and spearheaded the company's initiative to deliver a consistent user experience across platforms. Charlie and his team received the 2011 Emmy Award for outstanding achievement for the Xfinity TV iPad app and a 2013 Emmy Award for the X1 user interface. X1 was a breakthrough for us, and we need the best customer service to accompany these great products. Charlie will bring the same passion for customer-focused innovation that he brought to developing products to this new role. Charlie will begin his new role immediately, but will continue to work with our CTO, Tony Werner, and his current team until a new head of product design and development is in place."

For more:
- read this Comcast blog post

Related links:
The Verge of obsession? Tech pub ramps up series on Comcast customer service
Fast Wi-Fi, nifty interfaces are nice, Comcast, but customers clearly want better manners
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