Tuesday, September 29, 2015

My Cable Company:
How a Bad Customer Experience was
Turned Around by Social Media

I recently contacted my cable company via their website chat, to find out what it would cost to make a few changes to my existing service. As many of you have probably experienced, adding services with your cable company can be very frustrating. It always seems that it costs a lot more to upgrade, then it ever saves to downgrade. This was another one of those cases.

It wasn't the rep's fault, but the chat quickly went downhill, mostly because the rep kept following a script. It seemed like each interaction annoyed me more. Whenever I was critical of anything, the response was "I'm sorry about that, would you like to go ahead with this upgrade?". After 20 minutes of this, I was asked "Is there anything else I can help you with?". I asked for the name and contact info for the President's assistant. The reply was to give me a VP's name, but when asked, was told that he didn't have an email address. The chat ended with me being asked once again "Is there anything else I can help you with?". I just had to reply with "Do you really think that makes sense at this point?" (Although at this point, I really felt like saying "Anything else? What do you think you've helped me with so far?") 

Now the rep was actually very nice, but clearly constrained by the script. The entire experience left me feeling like my cable company really didn't care about how they made their customers feel. I wondered if there was a lack of commitment to Customer Experience throughout the company, or if the problem was limited to interacting with the call center. I decided to turn to Social Media. 

I posted a brief comment on Facebook, and also on Twitter, questioning if anybody really cares about customer experience at my cable company. Within 2 minutes I had a response from the company on Twitter, by someone very committed to doing all they could to resolve any issues I had. They were able to use good judgment and interact freely without following a script. At the end, she even encouraged me to contact her group directly for any future needs. 

My Facebook posting led to a friend that connected me with one of their contacts, who was a director within the cable company's customer facing organization. This was really good, and led to the transcript of my original chat with the call center being reviewed and summarized to upper management. 

My original goal was simply to get some pricing. This entire experience was mostly an expiriment based upon my passion for Customer Experience. I really wanted to see what I would find. It led to two main conclusions:

  • I confirmed what an effective tool Social Media can be for consumers when a vendor's standard customer care channel is ineffective, and actually, how important it can be to the vendor. 
  • I found that as a company, my cable provider really does care about their customers' experience, but they have not focused hard enough to assure things don't break down at the base level of customer interaction. It seems like it would be an easy fix to train their call center rep to immediately escalate a call or chat to a supervisor as soon as things start to break down following their standard script.