The Verge culminates Comcast assault: Former employees describe service issues as endemic, unfixable

The Verge has concluded a caustic--and rather damning--three-part analysis of Comcast's (NASDAQ: CMCSA) customer service acumen, defining the Philadelphia media and communications giant's culture as bent on sales and growth and incapable of fundamentally improving its overall service quality.

While earlier installments in the investigative feature series read a bit like a tech blog looking to cash in, traffic-wise, on the viral hysteria generated in July when an audio clip featuring outrageous Comcast customer retention behavior made the social media rounds, the third installment, penned by Adrienne Jeffries, involves key executive voices from the cable company, and feels balanced and authoritative.

Speaking to more than 150 current and former employees, the Vox Media-owned technology blog paints a bleak picture of a sprawling communications company, perhaps incapable on a DNA-level of improving a customer service reputation that ranks at the bottom of major indexes.

For the latest installment, Jeffries did manage to have at-length conversations with Comcast corporate communications chief D'Arcy Rudnay and senior VP of customer experience Tom Karinshak.

Noting that Comcast spends $2 billion annually on customer service initiatives, the executives try to deliver a message of redemption, as their company looks to acquire No. 2 cable provider Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC).

"We continue to work on [customer service]," Rudnay tells Jeffries. "We have been working on it. It's very important to our customer experience."

Speaking to a number of current and former employees, however, Jeffries describes a scenario in which the conglomerate has focused too long on growth for the sake of growth, while trying to integrate too many acquisitions.

"This is not getting bigger to provide cheaper service, or economies of scale, or to provide better service," a billing systems manager who worked at Comcast from 2008 to 2013 tells the blogger. "This is getting bigger for the sake of bigness. This is really like, 'I own 10 Subway stores and now I want an 11th one.' Well, if your 10 Subway stores have Cs from the health department, I don't know if you should get an 11th one. Maybe you should work on getting them cleaned out."

Whether or not the TWC merger gains federal approval, Jeffries concludes Comcast's service issues will continue. But the problem with the TWC purchase, as she sees it, is that TWC--which performs similarly poor on customer surveys--shares a belief that consumers respond only to product improvements and not effective problem solving.

The Verge interviewed one TWC insider, who notes that top TWC executives only tout the improved products and price points the proposed Comcast merger will deliver. There is "zero talk about improving customer service," the individual tells Jeffries.

For more:
- read the full story from The Verge here

Related links:
The Verge of obsession? Tech pub ramps up series on Comcast customer service
Comcast COO: Customer retention rep recording was 'painful to listen to'
Fast Wi-Fi, nifty interfaces are nice, Comcast, but customers clearly want better manners

Suggested Articles

TV[R]EV's Alan Wolk covers Netflix's new measurement standard and Comcast's broadband subscriber growth for Week In Review.

Ampersand today launched a new audience-based ad planning, buying and measurement platform.

Comcast warned investors to expect higher video subscriber losses in 2020 due to several factors that will impact the legacy video business.