The Comcast Cancel Call: Your Thoughts?

in Customer Service

The now infamous Comcast cancellation call has gone mega-viral. People are outraged. Comcast has apologized. I’ve received many messages about my take on it, and requests to post it for comments.

Given that I often share recordings of phone calls, it’s my obligation to post what is perhaps the most listened to sales/service call recording ever.

Given that my readers are mostly sales and service professionals, we have somewhat of an insider’s perspective of this, different than most people who are just looking at it from a customer’s viewpoint.

So here are the questions:

1. In general, what is your opinion of the entire interaction?

2. To take a contrarian view from everything else being published about this, what POSITIVES could be taken/learned from the call.

Please leave your comments below. I’ll post mine next week.

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{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

Paul Simon July 24, 2014 at 2:51 pm

I hadn’t heard this. Listen long enough and you just sort of have to laugh. The customer had more patience than I would have had, although once I read more about this I recognize his experience in the online world. Interesting that Comcast says its rep was basically following its guidelines and indeed had a personal incentive in retaining the customer.

Positives: The rep used positive language in supporting Comcast’s service and in standing up for his company/believing in his product. Once he’d done everything he could to save the account, he expressed appreciation for the customer’s previous support of Comcast. In other words, in that sense he didn’t burn bridges (although that bridge already may have been lying at the bottom of the river by then).

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Hiram July 25, 2014 at 7:29 am

It’s difficult to have a 2-way conversation when the customer won’t answer any questions. I agree with Paul that both sides showed extraordinary patience with the other. The “net” has made the sales rep to be the bad guy but the customer was no sweetheart either.

Positives: determination (on BOTH sides). This was like watching two wrestlers moving around the ring, pacing back and forth, each one trying to find an opening, neither succeeding. To be honest, I wouldn’t have stuck with it as long. Right or wrong, the customer clearly had his mind made up so there was no room for change.

Another positive (again for BOTH) was that they maintained a conversational tone (no yelling) and stayed professional (no name calling). Not sure I would have scored high in this area either!

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Glenn July 26, 2014 at 10:23 am

Really? Hiram, the customer has no obligation to answer questions. HE’S THE CUSTOMER! He wanted his service cancelled, and the rep and his company should have respected him and honored that decision.

The way this call should have gone is like this: “Hi, I’m John Doe and I want to cancel my subscription.” “Hi Mr. Doe, I’m Jane Doe w/ Comcast. May I ask why you want to cancel your subscription?” “Hi Ms. Doe – no, I just want to cancel.” “No problem, Mr. Doe, your subscription is canceled. Your confirmation number is … You will receive a final bill in about three weeks. Thank you so much for your business, and please don’t hesitate to give us a call if you have any questions, or if you would like your service reconnected. Have a wonderful day.”

Treating people in the manner Comcast chose to is disrespectful. The tactic of “wearing the customer down” is unacceptable. Comcast’s absolute greed above human respect is repulsive. Frankly (in my opinion), if you find anything that Comcast did acceptable, then you are part of the problem.

Respectfully,

Glenn Goryl

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David July 31, 2014 at 7:31 pm

The customer owes nothing to Comcast or to the sales rep. He was not “no sweetheart either.” This Comcast rep was nothing but irritating. He tried manipulative closes. He talked like a stalker. The customer was actually too nice–he gave too much, was too courteous. I would have been much shorter than the customer. I would have been the one doing the interruptions to the rep’s filibustering.

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Tatianna M August 6, 2014 at 7:38 am

Who cares if the customer won’t answer questions. If I call to cancel my services…That means I don’t want it. This customer care specialist is obnoxious, pushy, ridiculous. I feel like calling Comcast and CANCELLING my services. There is NO positives whatsoever in this conversation the ONLY positive thing is that the customer did not go CRAZY on this guy.

This is WRONG in every way and form, I don’t want to do business with someone like this. I think is good that he stood there in the call and recorded it. It shows their true colors.

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Debbie July 25, 2014 at 7:34 am

I went through the same thing with Time Warner. The exact same thing. I actually told the Rep that I would cancel even if he offered the service for free. They hard sell. The sales rep was good but apparently not good enough

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Mike July 25, 2014 at 7:49 am

Beyond horrible! I’m amazed the customer put up with that treatment and remained as calm and as “on point” as he did. I would’ve hung up long before.

The vendor violated one of the rules of sales when he told the customer what he himself needed. Sales is ZERO about what the seller needs and ALL about what the buyer needs. IF all the buyer needs is to disconnect service, then you disconnect service. I have no issue with the seller asking him why he was making the change…..ONCE, but not badgering him about it dozens of times.

Mike

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Reese July 25, 2014 at 8:12 am

I agree with you Mike. If I were the customer, I would have just hung up. I could have easily called and spoke to someone else then cancel. BTW, I have had Comcast for years and that information he was giving the customer about having to go to the store to terminate because he would not give a reason and he still had the equipment is untrue. Terminations can easily be done by phone. Comcast can also send a return label for any equipment the customer still has. This dude was grasping at straws and making stuff up just to prevent the cancellation. The customer figured that out and asked for the cancellation anyway. I actually was going to terminate my service but the guy I spoke with asked me what about my service I was dissatisfied with and if there was anything he could do to try to change my mind. I told him that price was the issue and he actually helped me downgrade to some services that were more beneficial for my use. His voice tone and delivery sold me. He did not sound desperate or aggressive at all.

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Reese July 25, 2014 at 8:04 am

This is the first time I heard this call or read anything about it. My opinion is the sales rep should take a chill pill. There is no reason why he should have gone back and forth with the customer like that. I am listening to the tone of the sales rep vs the tone of the customer, and the customer was calm and cool and his tone remained unchanged. The sales rep, on the other hand, his voice kept escalating. It was not what the sales rep was saying that was the problem, it was his delivery. Proper delivery is everything. He had a blatant disregard to what the customer was saying. He sounded like he never had someone cancel before and was in shock about it. Rejections and cancellations are part of the sales business. If he fights with every customer like that, I guarantee that most of his customers will just call right back and terminate with another agent. I know how this game goes with retention. The rep who takes the call, gets hit with the cancellation. He thought he could out talk the customer and convince him not to cancel ON THAT CALL. He cared less whether the customer kept service with Comcast for the long term. It was very obvious.

Now for the Pros. The sales rep has very positive statements about Comcast and the benefits of the service. He was consistent with asking probing questions. He was diligent in attempting to get to the root cause.

What we as sales reps can learn from this call is that sales retention is never a fight. Be careful of your delivery and your voice tone should NEVER escalate higher than the customers’. Find out what interested your customer in making the purchase in the first place. Tie their prior wants and and needs to the benefits of the product or service. Remember the benefits that initially drew them may not be the benefits that you are highlighting. The conversation should always be about them. Not you and not your company. Customers pick up on that fairly quickly. Sales is not just about sales. It also about customer service.

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Brandon July 25, 2014 at 8:11 am

The whole dialogue was UNBELIEVABLE! The caller was patient beyond any reasonable expectations (although since he was recording it, it became sort of a game). The Comcast agent carried his duties well beyond the line when he should have simply cancelled the caller’s service.

I, for one, would probably have unloaded on the Comcast agent about 6 minutes earlier.

This is a prime example of why telemarketers, foreign support centers and domestic call centers get a bad name.

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Bob July 25, 2014 at 8:26 am

You can only speculate why either party was acting the way they did. We are human and emotions sometimes takes over the sensibility part of our brain. So many variables it’s difficult to really know whether this was inappropriate or spot on by either person.

I have been on both sides of this call over the years. Only I know what the reasons were for taking the stand I did and just like both of these people, it’s none of your business! Call it an out of the body experience.. For a moment I left common sense out of the call and just had to lash out. Did I feel better for it? Your bet! But then I got back to reality and followed the script.

This call reminds me of the movie “Falling Down” w/ Michael Douglas… Just aint going to take it anymore.
Thanks Art!

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Robert July 25, 2014 at 8:44 am

WOW ! What can be said … this is really out of this world.
This is a very good example of extremely bad Customer service.
I’m so happy to NOT be a Comcast customer !
And after this, I will never be a Comcast customer, NEVER !
Thank you.

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Mark Davies July 25, 2014 at 8:56 am

My 2 cents worth…..
Two lines I recommend Comcast use in future:
1. Do you mind if I ask you a couple of questions?
2. What would we have to do to retain you as a customer?

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Rod July 25, 2014 at 9:31 am

Although the sales rep came across as well versed in his script, he pushed it to an extreme degree. Sounded like he was trying to get his set of questions answered without regard for the customer’s request. Likely part of his call job description that he would be graded on. A classic example of pitbull sales rep meets closed and locked customer. Neither were listening to each other.

Positives: Persistence was aptly demonstrated by both individuals. If I were the customer, I likely would have raised my voice eventually. If I were the sales rep, I’d have given up sooner. Great that sales rep stayed positive until the end.

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Geoff Wiebe July 25, 2014 at 10:15 am

I wish we could have heard the first ten minutes of this conversation. This would tell us a lot. Obviously the Comcast guy’s tone was absolutely terrible if he was actually trying to get a helpful response from the guy. There is absolutely nothing wrong with asking a customer what made them decide to leave, as this helps improve service for everyone. The way he was asking the questions was very poor. I would be curious how his tone was earlier in the call.

POSITIVES:
The end result of the call was a cancellation, and there is sometimes no way around it. The guy didn’t even try to leave open an opportunity for ending the call as friends with his caller and former customer. Not only did he burn the bridge with the customer, he packed the bridge with about 10,000 lbs. of C4 and ran away with his tail between his legs. This is helpful because he has shown us how to NOT disagree with an unhappy customer over the phone. Throughout the entire conversation I could hear in my head what he probably should have said to the guy instead. There is a way to do it and save face. This customer will not be back. We always need to part friends and leave the door open. This did not happen here.

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maryellen July 25, 2014 at 10:44 am

1) Both sides pushed the envelope and no one won. No customer services person was all about the rep and the customer could have raised his voice to see if he could get the service he was looking for on this call
2) I would select something to identify with the caller. 1) acknowledge what the customer is saying. Yes, I can cancel your service and I’d like to thank you for your years of using our service.
Did something change in our service to you? Anything that might be helpful to us with future customers. Read if there is a reason to try to be on the same page or accept the cancelation and move on

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Bert July 25, 2014 at 11:45 am

The retention rep should have employed one of Robert Cialdini’s principles:

“I’m very sorry we are losing your business, you have been with us for a long time, and are a valued customer. As someone who knows our service so well, and because we want to improve our service to others in the future, can you please share you reasons for cancelling the service?”

That sort of question is not in any way going to make someone defensive like the blunt, “Why are you wanting to disconnect?” the rep used.

If after trying the above question, and getting a response like, “I’d rather not say.” The retention rep could have said, “OK, I’m entering the cancel order now. One last thing. If a friend expressed an interest in using our service, would you recommend us? That might flesh out their issue.

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Carl Street July 26, 2014 at 10:28 am

Wow, I have seen prosecutors in capital crimes admonished for lesser badgering.

For some strange reason this “sales rep” equates customer relations with blunt force trauma. And, based on Comcast management response, it appears the rot goes all the way to the top.

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bazinga July 26, 2014 at 12:05 pm

Customer sounds like a whiny prick regardless, same kind of guy who goes around filming policemen waiting for a response and then acting shocked when he gets one.

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Norm July 26, 2014 at 3:56 pm

It sounded like the rep was following a script and afraid Quality Monitoring would write a negative review if he just gave the customer what the customer wanted. So, he hung in there even though common sense dictated otherwise. Draconian procedures lead to bad customer service. Why is it sales people are critiqued by people who never step up to the firing-line of the sale?

I felt sorry for the rep. who was so afraid to just act normal.

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progers July 26, 2014 at 4:52 pm

The rep should have acknowledged customers’ unwillingness to answer questions and aimed to gently draw him into a conversation. The customer was a supreme ass intent on belittling another human being.

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Steve Salzman July 27, 2014 at 11:30 am

The entire call is disturbing from a customer service standpoint. The customer service representative just should have canceled the service without brow beating the caller. Comcast needs to hold sensitivity and phone etiquette classes for every employee.

I, too, had dealings with Comcast customer service dealing with unwarranted charges that was supposedly removed but kept reappearing on the bill. When I threatened to tape the call the representative changed her attitude. Mind you this happened days after the above incident happened. What is disturbing about Comcast customer service is they own QVC Network. I worked for QVC Network when they were in their infancy. The executives and trainers banged into our heads that the customer was the most important person and they get what they want. Basically, the customer is always right. Even if they send back products they didn’t sell. So, now I am wondering how that plays into their customer service. QVC should be teaching Comcast employees the way customer service should be and phone etiquette.

The positive side of the call is that everyone should be more sensitive to their customers needs and wants. Sure it would be nice to know why someone is canceling their subscription to the service but is it going to help if the customer is moving away from a service area or maybe going out of business. Is your company going to offer funds to keep the business going just so they remain your customer? We have to remind ourselves people and businesses have different reasons why they stop doing business with us even if it is not our fault. We can bend backwards, forwards, and every other way to keep the customer but it doesn’t matter today. Today is a different breed of customer. Customers are more intelligent and better educated about products and services. This includes price points.

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Ann Mayer July 27, 2014 at 2:47 pm

The positives are that the company/representative was trying to find out whey the customer was leaving. We all need to know that. Yes he wouldn’t let go and continually interrupted the caller, but he was genuinely interested in why the caller was leaving.

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Ruth Lee July 27, 2014 at 10:51 pm

This is the game of the retention specialist. Acknowledge the customer. Granted, the rep was trying to gather what the company insists on for a call to have met company standards. Perhaps saying something as simple as, “I’m sorry to hear that”, would have been a better way to draw the customer out. Asking if he could share the reason for his decision. I was very impressed with both parties not blowing up. The rep did the number one no-no for phone pros, never talk over the other party, it is rude & disrespectful. But my original thought was the rep is a retention specialists, more than likely will hit a bonus with X number of turned accounts. That’s too bad, good customer service is the best “Retention Specialist” any company can have.

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Kristin July 28, 2014 at 9:38 am

This call would have turned out very differently had the rep simply 1) asked the customer why he was cancelling, and when the customer replied, “I just want to cancel”, follow it up with, “I am sorry to hear that. Is there anything we can do on our end to change your mind?” If the customer replied “No, there isn’t”, then quickly process the request, provide the customer with any neccessary information (i.e. a confirmation number and info regarding the final bill) then bid him a good day. At the very least, they may have a former customer whose LAST interaction with Comcast was a positive one.

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David July 31, 2014 at 7:39 pm

This sales rep was not trying to get at why the customer was canceling; he was using old and ineffective sales closes, combined with a simply awful presentation. I’m not going to give him pros for presenting the benefits and positives of the Comcast service; he did so with manipulative closes, while constantly interrupting the customer and refusing to do his job (part of his job is disconnecting customers accounts).

The customer was too giving. Too nice, eventually. The Comcast rep was not nice.

By the way, I would not be surprised if the Comcast rep did not cancel the account. His claim that he had no confirmation number was almost certainly false.

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boilerroom August 1, 2014 at 6:40 am

In the late ’80s when I worked at a penny stock shop, the branch manager had us keep practicing the scripted ‘closes’ on the “customer” until he hung up the phone…. I had one guy on the phone for over 20min’s and went thru the list of ‘closes’ multiple times… Sad to see the “practice your pitch until the guy hangs up” mentality still exists….

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Tatianna M August 6, 2014 at 7:30 am

WHYYY can’t he just disconnect his services?!?!?! My blood pressure is going HIGH by listening to this!!!!!!!!!!!! OH MY GOD!

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Bill September 5, 2014 at 8:58 am

You gotta love the tenacity of the service center person trying to persuade the customer to remain with Comcast (Cable companies are all disastrous in their “customer service”. I’ve used both Comcast and Time Warner and, as a customer, despise both) AND he is clearly well beyond reason in demanding the customer provide answers. From the perspective of the service center management, this was a profound waste of his time. Immaturity in the selling business will suggest a never give up at any cost approach. And, while good “training” this was also a colossal waste of energy, time and, apparently, any residual good-will.
Customers don’t owe sales people anything, ever. Some customers practice courtesy, others act as if they don’t understand basic manners. Customers don’t owe sales people answers. That’s another mis-perception of youth.

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