7 Signs of Change at Comcast: What I’ve found so far

by cv harquail on October 28, 2009

It looks like Comcast is, in fact, working to integrate its social media efforts into its internal systems. This integration of their customer contact efforts, along with internal leadership initiatives, is powering overall organizational change.

In my previous post, I questioned whether people were assuming cultural change at Comcast simply because their CEO claimed change was happening. I argued that Comcast’s social media efforts were simply window dressing if they were not linked to systems changes inside the organization itself. And, I proposed that we look for evidence of 7 signs of (potential) organizational change, before we conclude that Twitter is Changing Comcast’s Culture.

magic 8 ball.jpg In addition to my own online search for evidence, I got a little help from Frank Eliason, of @ComcastCares. Eliason commented on the original post and offered to share some additional thoughts. I asked him via email a few questions, and share excerpts from Eliason’s reply (in italics) below.

7 Signs of Change at Comcast

Gathering Feedback, Increasing Responsiveness

Sign #1. New systems are being created at Comcast to gather and analyze data about customer concerns as reflected on Twitter and other social media sites.

“The organization has been in the midst of change to a company focused on the Customer experience…. This change within the company was so much more than myself or my team. I personally credit Rick Germano, Senior Vice President of National Customer Operations, for a single system (After Germano took on this role in October of 2007), the first focus was to obtain Customer feedback and provide simple ways for Customers to talk with us.” FE

One of these simple new systems is the redesigned Comcast Help page, where customers can log their concerns w/out resorting to the brightshinyobject of Twitter. The page offers Six Ways to Get Help.

Sign #2. All customers, and not just those with social media savvy, are having their concerns responded to promptly, with respect and empathy.

Over the summer of 2009, Comcast rolled out the Comcast Customer Guarantee.

“To accomplish this we increased surveys of our Customers, used tools to better evaluate Customer contacts, provided a mechanism for Customers to share feedback (‘Ask Rick” on the Contact Us and Help & Support pages of Comcast.com), as well as our social media efforts. This direct feedback provides the necessary data to create tremendous amounts of change.” FE

Reducing Problems by Responding to Data

Sign #3. Systems are being coordinated to respond to this data so that these customerproblems happen less frequently.

Sign #4. Comcast employees throughout the organization are developing a greater sensitivity to customer concerns, customer service and customer satisfaction.

“We coordinate all this feedback data into a single system, so you can see it is a coordinated effort. We also started to embark on improving systems to better react to Customer trouble, hopefully before they (the customers) even know. There are many systems and alarms in place now to do just that. Because of these systems we have seen less trouble, and when we have (seen any trouble) the ‘time to correction’ has been greatly reduced.

[Eliason went further and included some screen shots of one of their diagnostic and tracking tools.] We also recognized that we needed to provide our own agents tools that are easy to use, but provide a greater depth of information to make sure we get it right the first time.

I attached 2 screen shots from one of these diagnostic tools – pictured are a screen shot of signal data and historical info, not pictured but really cool is an overlay of the area using Google Maps, and signals for every home. This area view makes sure the right tech is assigned the first time).

By placing the tools on our agents desk tops they feel more empowered and they are better able assist the Customer.” FE

A Change in Internal Focus, from Product to Customer Experience

Sign #6. Comcast as a organization is becoming more and more customer-oriented.

“Earlier this year a change occurred that was minor in terms of the number of words but that has had a very high impact for the organization. Every company has things like mission statements, credos or other statements regarding the goals of the organization. At Comcast our credo was centered around the products. Well earlier this year that all shifted. Our new credo is:

“We will deliver a superior experience to our customers every day. Our products will be the best and we will offer the most customer-friendly and reliable service in the market.”

Sign #7. Comcast customers are feeling cared about.

According to the American Consumer Satisfaction Survey, “Comcast made an even bigger leap, up 9% to 59. Comcast has apparently benefited by monitoring customer feedback on blogs and via the social networking site Twitter in order to identify disgruntled customers and address customer dissatisfaction on a one-to-one basis.

“I do recognize that we are not fully where we want to be, but I can assure you we are headed there. I also know many Customers, and in many cases, non-Customers may not have had reason to contact us, or based on prior experience, prefer not to. It will take time to changes the feelings we have created in the past, but I am confident we will. As with any company, there are still contacts that may not have gone as we would want, but our goal is to make sure our Customers can share that feedback with us and we can learn from them. We are constantly striving to improve!” FE

What about Organizational Learning?

Sign #5. Comcast leadership is creating and reinforcing systems that turn feedback into problem diagnosis into solution generating into solution execution into customer followup into organizational learning.

The one thing that I couldn’t tell from my online search or from Eliason’s comments is whether and how Comcast is becoming a learning organization. I’ll keep looking for evidence of that, as I’m sure Comcasts’s customers and employees will.

So, is Twitter Really Changing Comcast’s Culture?

What do you think, based on this evidence so far?

Signs of change and progress against corporate change goals goals doesn’t necessarily mean that service has improved and that customers are happier. Nor does it man that the members of the organization itself perceive change around them or feel that they are participating in this change. I’m sure that if I had emailed someone in a different part of the corporation I’d have gotten a different picture. But so far, it looks promising.

Your Take-a-way:

Social media can lead internal change and it can reflect internal change. We assume that, by opening up the organization’s boundaries to let organization members interact more directly and comprehensively with customers and their concerns, organization members will become more attuned to customers and end up providing better products and services. That’s the theory.

Whether through social media like Twitter or through some other tool, an organization’s outreach to customers needs to be authentic. It needs to go beyond a (relative) few public displays of attention and problem resolution, and get deeper into the less flashy, more lasting internal systemic change.

If you see any other signs of change, let us know.

See Also:
Faking an Identity: How Inauthentic Organizations Dress Up
Want Authenticity? Design Homophobia Out of the Organization

{ 1 comment }

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