Thursday, August 28, 2014

Businesses rely on customer acquisition as well as customer retention, so it’s no surprise that marketing and sales tactics are constantly being explored. The need to be respectful and cooperative, however, is paramount when it comes to consumer engagement, as least it should be. So what happens when a representative, pressured by the need for sales, simply goes too far?

In July of 2014, an audio clip of a Comcast representative and a customer went viral. The contents of the clip entail a customer, named Ryan Block, attempting to cancel his cable and internet with the service provider. The rep berated Block with an inquisition regarding his internet and cable service. The tirade continued for over eight minutes, with a frustrated Ryan Block repeatedly “declining to answer” why he desired to quit Comcast, asking for the service to be cancelled immediately. The rep asked “Why?” dozens of times, and attempted to convince Block of the futility of other services. When the representative finally acquiesced, Ryan Block asked for the rep’s name as well as confirmation of the cancellation of service. The recording was then leaked online, and several news magazines have reported on the quagmire ever since.

In one fateful moment, Block actually states: “I can guarantee right now that you are doing an incredibly good job of helping your company be worse.”

Clearly, Comcast has a great deal of fallout to manage. Not only has Ryan Block’s recording created outrage with the American public, it has evolved into a topic for the media to comment on. The Huffington Post, the Boston Globe, and BBC news have all reported on the subject, creating a messy situation for Comcast to clean up. Corporations should sit up, lean in, and take note of the unfolding drama, so that they can protect themselves from the same sort of scandal.

The solution for businesses: go back to basics. Train call reps to follow the right kind of script when it comes to customer service. Don’t be too pushy when trying to gather information, or in promoting upgrades for your clients. If the representative cannot meet the customer’s needs or if the client is experiencing emotional strain, then the call should be escalated to the rep’s supervisor. And, most importantly – no matter what the situation – when it comes to respect for the customer, the customer is always right.

Comcast is investigating the incident. According to Huffington Post, an executive (Tom Karinshak) of Comcast stated: “We are very embarrassed by the way our employee spoke with Mr. Block and are contacting him to personally apologize.” All in all, businesses should be taking preventative measures to avoid this debacle from happening with their own customers. Because as we can see now, this hasn’t just upset one former client, it’s frustrating a nation of potential customers.