Comcast probably didn’t use the term “human piñata” in the job description. But Charlie Herrin had to know that he’s taking on possibly the most thankless job in media as he moves to a new position, SVP Customer Experience for Comcast, from his previous gig as SVP Product Design and Development. In the new job, Herrin will “partner with leaders across all business units … to reimagine the customer experience and ensure that we are delighting our customers at each touch point,” Comcast Cable CEO Neil Smit says in a blog post announcing the appointment. “Charlie will listen to feedback from customers as well as our employees to make sure we are putting our customers at the center of every decision we make.”
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Smit acknowledges that Herrin faces a challenge. It could take “a few years before we can honestly say that a great customer experience is something we’re known for,” he said. “But that is our goal and our No. 1 priority … and that’s what we are going to do.”
Comcast’s initiative comes as it lobbies Washington to approve its $45B deal to buy Time Warner Cable. The cable giant also was embarrassed in July when tech journalist Ryan Block released a recording of his effort to cancel his broadband service while a Comcast customer retention rep refused to comply and hectored him with patronizing talking points. The company apologized and vowed to use “this very unfortunate experience to reinforce how important it is to always treat our customers with the utmost respect.”
Consumers dislike cable providers more than any other U.S. industry, the American Customer Satisfaction Index reported in May. Its survey respondents gave the lowest marks to cable companies’ broadband services and their second-lowest scores to their pay TV offerings — and the approval ratings in both areas fell from 2013. Time Warner Cable scored last among the providers, and Comcast was second to last. People “question the value proposition as both, as consumers pay for more than they need in terms of subscription TV and get less than they want in terms of Internet speeds and reliability,” ACSI Chairman Claes Fornell said.
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