Former Comcast customer service guru Frank Eliason pens open letter to ex-employer

As Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) deals with yet another viral crisis stemming from customer service reps mutilating subscriber names in the company's billing system, the cable conglomerate's former customer care guru, Frank Eliason, has penned an open letter urging his ex-employer to shape up.

Eliason, who led Comcast's Digital Care team from 2007-2010 and came to be known and "Comcast Frank," used his LinkedIn account to sketch out in broad detail just how far Comcast's customer service misdeeds go back, and what the company should do to improve its service acumen.

"I have had the privilege of working for the company, and I consider many who work there to truly be family, but today I have to say I am disappointed," writes Eliason, who now services as global director of client services for Citi.

Staging what amounts to as a kind of LinkedIn intervention for a company he still feels fondness for, Eliason notes that Comcast's customer service problems date back far beyond last summer's viral audio recording of former tech blogger Ryan Block's ill-fated experience with a Comcast customer retention rep.

"Over the years Comcast has provided some of the greatest customer service blunders the Internet has ever seen," Eliason notes. "Who can ever forget the Sleepy Tech video from 2006, or in August of 2007, Mona Shaw taking a hammer to an office? Also in 2007, NPR's Bob Garfield was so frustrated he created Comcast Must Die, a website dedicated to bringing negative customer service stories to life."

And Comcast, he adds, has been accused of adding profanities to customer names before.

Last year's appointment of Charlie Herrin to the "customer service czar" role--and Herrin's series of mea culpas--only mirror the lip service Comcast has been serving up for a decade, the LinkedIn "Influencer" says.

Real change, he adds, can only come from implementing these five steps:

1. Broaden Herrin's role to "chief customer officer" to represent customers in every decision Comcast makes.

2. Simplify pricing policies "instead of forcing customers to threaten to cancel service just to get a better rate. Stop creating situations where customers have to fight with you."

3. Move outsourced customer service operations back to the U.S.

4. Stop apologizing so much and change dysfunctional systems.

5. "Live up to being the Philadelphian that you already are." Treat customers in the same manner you would want to be treated.

For more:
- read this LinkedIn post
- read this Consumerist post
- read this Ars Technica story

Related links:
Yet another Comcast service travesty goes viral: customer called a profanity on bill
Bad timing? TWC tops in Better Business Bureau complaints in Charlotte
Comcast's Smit: 'Customer service will be one of our best products'
Comcast's summer of bad customer service
Fast Wi-Fi, nifty interfaces are nice, Comcast, but customers clearly want better manners