Last week AOL fired a customer service rep caught on audio for doing his job . A blogger had taped his conversation trying to cancel his service.
The soundtrack became an online hit. This week's online sensation is the napping Comcast technician. If you happened to be watching Cable News this weekend, this video got a lot of coverage. But it was the wrong coverage.
They focused on the fact that Comcast fired the poor technician, who after waiting on hold for an excruciating and obviously mind numbing 90 minutes to his own office,took a nap. The technician napping, wasn't the issue.
Comcast's horrible customer service was supposed to be the butt of the joke. Unfortuneately, Comcast's knee jerk reaction was to focus on the fact that the technician nodded off.
Who wouldn't fall asleep after 90 minutes on a Cozy Couch?
The Comcast technician didn't deserve to get fired any more than John at AOL deserved his firing earlier this month. What he deserved was a Gift card to Starbucks.
A couple of weeks ago,I encountered the working conditions of a Comcast technician. I had offered to greet the Comcast technician at my friend Myrna's house while she visited her dad in the hospital. He was working in her bedroom. I was downstairs.
After 45 minutes I went in to check on his progress. There he was, sitting on the floor with the phone cradled in his neck..on hold with Comcast. At the time I found it amusing.While I was used to being put on hold for technical support as a customer, I had no idea that the internal folks were treated the same way.
What's with that? We chatted. He said he always was put on hold for long periods of time.It was just part of the job. The guy who posted the video--Brian Finkelstein(who created his blog Snakes On A Blog for the sole purpose of being invited to the premiere of Snakes on a Plane) wasn't upset with the technician. He was upset with Comcast. That message got lost in the humor of the napping technician video. As he said on his blog,Snakes on a Blog,
At one point Comcast sent a technician to replace my cable modem/wireless router. This should have taken five minutes. Instead, when he called Comcast to activate my new modem, he was placed on hold for nearly 90 minutes. When I asked him why he was on hold for so long, he told me that phone reps were busy filling out customer service surveys. Then he fell asleep on my couch. I could have made a few suggestions for their survey. Anyway, after they missed two appointments in the last 24 hours, I’ve finally lost all hope of Comcast actually getting my internet connection working. To commemorate my miserable experience, I made this video (including footage of the technician asleep on my couch)
As expected, Comcast fixed the problem. Turns ot it was quite complicated and took at team over 5 hours to finally get his interent working. Jim Durbin, at Brandstorming also thinks that Comcast missed the point recommending that if they had had a blog they could have alleviated the bad press.
1) Link to the video from the Comcast blog. Comcast screwed up, and admitting it is the first step to take. Link the video, admit how embarassing it is, and call up Brian to personally apologize. Give him six months worth of free service.
2) Work to correct the problem. The problem is not the poor tech. It's the fact that cable service is a mockery, and everyone from sitcoms to comedians to average customers make fun of the service of cable guys. They even made a movie about it!
3) Don't fire the tech. Make him into a commercial where he drinks a lot of coffee. Turn this around. Use the guy as an example of how they are improving.
4) Highlight your successes by tracking progress. Highlight your successes. Make your improvements public.
5) Focus on other positive ways you can use blog marketing.
There's another aspect to this story. Instead of punishing the technician for taking a nap , Comcast should be applauding him --at least that's the belief of Camille & Bill Anthony of The Napping Company who are tiredlessly (because they nap) campaigning to promote work- time napping. More on that at another time -- but their point is that napping increases productivity. I hope to have an interview with them later this week. So in addition to the Starbucks for a year card, I think Comcast should also become a sponsor of National Napping Day --which always falls on the Monday after Daylight Savings starts.
Meanwhile, Comcast and AOL should rethink their firings, apologize to the booted technicians and yes, apologize to their customers.
Note: In the original post I had incorrectly identified Jim Durbin as Frank Durbin. Franki Durbin is his wife. The error was correct on 6/30/06.