Comcast, you can do better

In July 31st, 2013 6:00PM, a lightening stroke a house in our neighbourhood. The cable TV and internet service provided by Comcast were down.

Thanks to the corporate wireless hotspot, I can still access the internet with slow connection. Just few hours, an alert popped out in Comcast’s My Account console, acknowledging an outage in my area. OK, the service provider knows bad things happens, they must have been working on it.

12 hours later, the outage has not been recovered yet, so I tried the Comcast’s customer service, and they confirm the ETA will be August 1st, 2013 6:00 PM. As a service consumer, I really expect that the service provider roughly estimates the ETA for any outage, you can not just hang your customer die and dry.

August 2nd, 2013, 6:00 PM, the outage has lasted for approximate 48 hours. We decided to contact Comcast next day morning.

August 3rd, 2013, 9:30 AM, my wife first tried online chatting, and it turned out a total waste of time. The agency verified the account information, then asked her to call technical support.

The technical support is really a nightmare. My wife explicitly told him that we had a lightening strike in our neighbourhood recently, that caused an outage in our area. But the agency still followed the rigid protocol: he first asked us the serial number and mac address of our cable modem, and told us the device was not in their database, so they could not remote control the modem. Yes, it is a BYOD modem. It took more than half an hour for him to figure out this is not relevant to the modem after a series of reboot as the TV service is also down. At the end, a technician visit is scheduled on 4:00 PM in the same day.

The technician, Ben Richard, quickly pinpointed the root cause, — the splitter outside our house is fried in the thunder storm, he had resolved several cases in our neighbourhood after the lightening strike. The lightening strike also destroyed several infrastructure devices, and they have been busy repairing them since July 31st.

At August 3rd, 2013 4:40 PM, we get our internet and TV service recovered.

As I am working for an online survey service provider, I know customer service is hard, but it is also essential for the company to success. Outage is almost inevitable with operational cost constraints, the customer service is the major channel decrease the churn rate. In this case, I find quite a few places which have room to improve:

Realtime status update

Tell your customer what you technicians are doing, and give them live update and ETA, so they know they are in good hands.

Push, not Pull

For an incident like this, most customers in that area will be impacted. Why not just call your customers and schedule appointments to better schedule the technician resource? This will also save the call center resource as they have no clue about the context.

Compensate customer’s loss

Please review the SLA, and give your customers some discount to compensate their inconvenience.

Comcast, I think you can do better than that.