Air Miles & Aeroplan Create Loyalty OligopolyPrevious Article
Who Pays for Loyalty?Next Article

Independent and unbiased insight on customer loyalty and data-driven marketing

Sometimes Even The Best Customer Service Comes Up Short

Line Spacing+- AFont Size+- Print This Article
Related Articles

It’s probably no surprise that the great brands are able to combine excellent products with a superior level of customer service. After all, it’s this magic combination that makes them great brands in the first place.

Go to an Apple store to purchase their (in my opinion) superior products, and you get service from friendly, helpful sales reps who truly know and love their stuff. I’m also a big fan of Credo cell phone service. Not only does part of my bill go towards support of worthwhile social causes, every time I talk to customer service I find their reps are some of the nicest people in the world.

Then, there are certain products or services we use and like in spite of their customer service. Like the cool hotel on the beach, with the nice rooms and fantastic ocean views, but the less than accommodating staff. Or the pizza joint with the best pies in town and the never-on-time delivery.

But what about the opposite scenario? Can great customer service overcome a product or service that is deficient in some way to the competition?

Regular readers of Loyalty Truth already know where I’m going with this: right to my television set and Comcast. On these very Web pages, I recently wrote about my efforts to get my hands on a digital converter box from Comcast in order to receive a couple of channels that had dropped off my set.

You see, back in April, I was informed that I needed to pick up a digital converter to continue receiving MSNBC and AMC. But after going to my local office, I was told, “we’re out of them, come back in January”. A 9-month wait. After checking back in September, I received several conflicting responses, and after a lot of back-and-forth, I was led me to believe a converter would be sent to me in two weeks.

Fast forward to September 26th: two days after my last Comcast blog entry was posted, I received an online reply from ComcastMark of Comcast National Customer Operations. After answering a few questions, I was turned over to ComcastMike (or was it ComcastRich?) who e-mailed me with a few more questions. He, in turn, had a Comcast customer service rep named Cynthia call me.

I wish I could tell you the story had a happy ending, that Cynthia stopped by in a Comcast van to hand-deliver the converter box to me, and I was now writing this from my bedroom office, Countdown with Keith Olbermann playing in the background. But no such luck.

You see, instead of bringing me good news, ComcastCynthia reverted back to the original story. She told me there was in fact a 9-month wait for the digital converters, due to a delay by supplier Scientific Atlanta. She would call me as soon as they came in, probably in January.

To me, a 9-month wait to get the converter box means that someone in the offices of Comcast had really dropped the ball.  A 9-month wait means these devices must be in demand. Yikes, can’t Comcast put a little pressure on Scientific Atlanta to ramp up production? After all, in my town, a place where Comcast had a monopoly for many years, their share of market has dropped below 50%. Surely, there had to be a quicker way, Comcast. You’re bleeding customers!

It got me thinking about a recent post by Chris Brogan who pointed out that when a customer service rep tweets “some kind of comforting or informational note to someone who’s having a problem in real time, this information doesn’t exactly travel (easily) through the rest of the system to the people most likely to be directly in front of that person.” Or, in my case, to Cynthia, my designated Comcast rep.

Yet, I don’t really blame ComcastMark or ComcastMike or even ComcastCynthia. Sure, I was passed down the line once, twice, but that’s okay, as they all got back to me in a prompt and courteous manner. Cynthia also gave me the straight story, contrary to my previous encounter with a Comcast rep who said I’d have the converter mailed to me in a couple of weeks.

But despite their best efforts, I’m still in the same place I was back in April, before the Comcast National Customer Operations crew got involved—in essence, waiting 9 months for a part. (Which makes me glad I didn’t lease my car from Comcast.)

It just goes to show you that all the great customer service people in the world often don’t translate into happy, loyal customers—unless you have an organization behind them that gives them the tools, and great products and services, to back them up.

Tom Rapsas is an independent Creative Director/Writer/Strategist. He can be reached at and via Twitter @tomrapsas.



Loyalty Truth Reboot – what does the future hold?

Loyalty Truth Reboot – what does the future hold?

It has been a while since I have posted here on a regular basis. I wanted to share an update with you and reconnect with a fresh perspective. The original inspiration: I [...]

Become a Loyalty Truth Insider!

Want to get connected with some of the best minds in customer loyalty? As an “Insider”, you’ll benefit from powerful information framed with a practitioner’s perspective. You can expect a bi-monthly summary of some of our most compelling posts and sharp reads from other sources, combined around a theme to provide insights on trends and hot topics in the market.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Event Calendar for Loyalty Marketers