Comcast’s Horrific Example of ‘Customer Service’ Prompts an Apology

comcastIf you have about 8 minutes to spare and have a high tolerance for extremely annoying and awkward conversations, you may consider listening to this Comcast customer service call, the subject of much media coverage (and scorn) since it was uploaded to SoundCloud on Tuesday. The recording—which has been played nearly 4 million times at this point—documents the end of a conversation between an unnamed Comcast service representative and Ryan Block, a tech writer and former Engadget editor-in-chief, who wishes to cancel his Comcast service.

To say that the Comcast rep badgers Block on the call would be to put it lightly, as the rep repeatedly asks Block why he wishes to cancel his service, a question Block refuses to answer. The exasperated rep continually reminds Block that Comcast's service is the best in the country and asks him multiple times why he would want to use an inferior service instead, prompting a confounded Block to explain at one point, "This phone call is actually an amazing representative example of why I don't want to stay with Comcast."

The Comcast rep sounds aggravated and bordering on condescension throughout the call before finally confirming that Block's service has been cancelled.

In terms of a communications strategy, the Comcast rep's tone on this call is one that few communicators would recommend. As negative press rolled in (Gawker went as far as describing the call as "Kafkaesque"), Comcast issued a statement to the press, saying, "The way in which our representative communicated with [Ryan Block] is unacceptable and not consistent with how we train our customer service representatives....While the overwhelming majority of our employees work very hard to do the right thing every day, we are using this very unfortunate experience to reinforce how important it is to always treat our customers with the utmost respect."

Comcast is currently getting a thorough lambasting for the Block recording. It certainly won't do much to help the brand's perception as a monopolizing behemoth—one that they have tried to correct for years, going back to the @ComcastCares Twitter account—one of the first major operations to provide customers with real-time customer service on Twitter. Still, the major communications lesson here is probably a very simple one: "Don't do it like this."

Follow Brian Greene: @bwilliamgreene