It looks like Comcast is learning to have customer conversations. That is extremely good news. I found Frank Eliason (yes, he is real) on Twitter last night as I was catching up with my network. I added Frank's stream to the ones I follow because I was curious to find out more.
What I have seen so far is pretty bold:
- specific troubleshooting
- email resources - helping people with some changes they've made in the way their servers handle mail
- live modem diagnostics
- information on new features
- a human voice, apologizing for snafus, even admitting "I do not know" and hopefully going to find out
Last August I wrote a post at Fast Company expert blogs about Comcast that got a lot of comments. The post was voicing how a huge organization has tremendous difficulty dealing with customers, even through the channels they designated - namely a simple address and name change request and inquiries about pricing. Those are the basics of business, the things you should have down path. Things that could have been fixed easily, yet they were not.
Given the very strict spam filter the publication had in place at the time, I did not see the comments appear until recently. If you glance over there, you may notice that many of the readers joined the conversation to talk about their own experiences with the cable company - overall not positive. I know Comcast was listening, because I did get my information fixed eventually, so this is a good opportunity to share that.
Interestingly, one person took the time to add their two cents not about the topic, but about the writer. If you've been online for any length of time, you will know that is par for the course. I am ready to believe they were not a plant from the company. If you read the comment, you will see why.
It is my custom to address concerns, and the publication has now moved to a different system that does not allow me to reply to comments there, so I thought I'd address it here. It is so refreshingly constructive and illuminating - it really does speak about the person who left it. My response, albeit a few months late in coming:
To the Genuinely Underwhelmed dude -
If you were so genuine, you would have signed with your name. As for underwhelmed - well, you made some pretty false assumptions. Fast Company does not pay me; as a matter of fact, I buy their magazine. So you might call me a customer evangelist, a fan, a volunteer.
My writing reached you, and that is a lucky break for someone like me with a doctoral degree in linguistics. "Cutting-edge" is a pretty overused expression - want to try something more... innovative? I might learn from you. And I mean that with sincerity.
Judging by many of the other comments on that post, it looks like actually doing right by the customer might be innovative for Comcast.
The company's recent (looks like April 6, 2008) move on Twitter is a step in the right direction - that of customer conversations. There are a lot of positives that can happen when people choose to talk, especially when they are genuinely involved and committed to making a difference.
I suspect that Frank will soon become overwhelmed by requests and questions - that is because he is making it easier to reach the company through him. Overwhelmed is preferable to underwhelmed. Underwhelmed means you are not even trying.