By now, you’re probably one of the millions of people who have heard Comcast’s current call from H***. And while the spotlight is on Comcast, Michelle deHaaff correctly points out in her blog that an incident like this “could be happening in your company right now.”

Comcast Call from HellWe’d take this a step further. Not only could it be happening, it probably is. Check out the facts: A recent study by Qmatic found that “82% of retailers believe they provide a high level of customer experience, but 72% of consumers disagree.” In other words, companies are clueless.

Should we buy what Comcast is saying: that this was an outlier? No. Actually, we’re sure they’re particularly bad because lots Comcast customers have written to us complaining about their service. (Because of this, I’ve offered our program to Comcast executives who told me they don’t need to improve their customer service. No hard feelings, but really Comcast, you have a problem!)

So how do you prevent bad calls and improve customer service? The simple answer is: training. Unfortunately, most training only sort-of works. Most customer service training emphasizes soft skills, time management, and addresses major business objectives. In the case of Comcast, clearly the objective was customer retention—make that: customer RETENTION!

But this approach to customer service training fails to show customer service associates exactly how to translate company objectives into compelling customer service moments. It’s ok if the objective is customer retention, but associates need to know how to engage—otherwise, as in this case, engagement could become enragement.

As for training that improves customer service—2 words: concrete examples. These concrete examples need to be thoroughly role-played. In addition, they need to be available as an easy-to-use customer experience plan with guidelines for how to represent your company in every customer communication.

Frontline staff is entrusted with the extremely important job of figuring out how to communicate your brand. Without a strong foundation built on concrete examples, you leave your customer service open to staff interpretation and sloppy execution. Some of your reps may make great choices. But the Comcast call from H*** demonstrates that, without concrete examples, reps can definitely tarnish your brand. No one benefits. Not the company. Not the customer. Well, maybe my blog.


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