Thursday, July 17, 2014

Why Your Comcast Rep Is Yelling at You

Adrianne Jeffries:

The man who spoke to Block is a “retention specialist,” a position Comcast describes as “equal parts detective, ally, troubleshooter, and negotiator” in job listings. Comcast’s retention reps are paid a low hourly wage supplemented by a monthly commission that depends on how many customers they are able to drag back into the fold.

[…]

In other words, the incentive structure is really about punishment. Reps start out the month with a full commission, but every canceled product deducts from that amount. Once reps fall below a certain threshold, they get no commission at all. That means a rep could get all the way to the second-to-last day of the pay period only to have a customer cancel four products. Suddenly the rep is below her goal, losing $800 to $1,000 off her paycheck.

This reminded me of Joel Spolsky’s Measurement article from 2002. (Spolsky cites a book about Amazon customer service by Mike Daisey—yes, that one—and parts of the book have since been shown to be exaggerated.)

Update (2014-07-23): Chris Morran (via John Gruber):

A week after the posting of the neediest customer-retention call in Comcast history, the fallout continues, with the company’s Chief Operating Officer telling Comcast employees in a memo leaked to Consumerist that the incident was “painful to listen to,” but that the rep “did a lot of what we trained him…to do.”

Update (2014-07-29): Adrianne Jeffries:

Dozens of current and former Comcast employees told The Verge they had to constantly push products, even if they worked in tech support, billing, and general customer service.

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