America’s largest internet provider seems to have missed out on the memo that the customer is always right.
In an extraordinary recording that has been doing the rounds online, Ryan Block – an American technology journalist – attempted to cancel his internet connection over the phone with US cable company Comcast.
But the Comcast employee wasn’t having a bar of it. Instead of cancelling Block’s subscription, the customer service representative attempted to convince him why he shouldn’t cancel. When that doesn’t work, the representative proceeds to ask Block an endless stream of questions about why he would want to leave the company.
What will the election mean to you?
Sign up to our free newsletter, including this weekend’s coverage of the election.
“I’m terribly sorry it feels like I’m trying to argue,” the customer service representative said more than five minutes into the phone call. “I’m just trying to get some information.”
The customer service representative then goes on to say the disconnection is going ahead, only to then tell Block why he shouldn’t leave Comcast for a few more minutes:
In a statement to ABC News, a Comcast spokesperson said the company was embarrassed by the recording.
“The way in which our representative communicated with him his unacceptable and not consistent with how we train our customer service representatives,” they said. “We are investigating this situation and will take quick action.”
But the incident shows the power customers have to shame companies for poor customer service in the digital age.
Research by NewVoiceMedia has found as many as 32% of Australian consumers vent their frustrations online following inadequate customer service. However, that figure rises to 53% among people aged 16-24.
Chief executive of NewVoiceMedia, Jonathan Gale, said in a statement customers are increasingly taking to the internet to share bad experiences with their personal networks and beyond.
“Not long ago, customers would tell friends and family if they were dissatisfied with service they’d received,” he said. “While this is damaging to a brand, it’s not nearly as powerful and immediate as customers who take their complaints online.”
Gale said over the next few years businesses can expect to see more people turn online to vent their frustrations as the younger generation matures.
“Customers want personalised and engaging experiences every time, through every channel,” said Gale.
“Great customer experience is the critical differentiator and by doing it well, organisations can drive the customer acquisition, retention and efficiency that make leading companies successful.”
Australian businesses lose an estimated $8 billion each year due to customers taking their spending power elsewhere due to bad experiences.