After a spate of negative press, Comcast made a splashy vow in 2015 to take the customer experience to a new level. It kicked off the initiative at the Cable Show in Chicago, talking about the pledge and showing off a revamped Xfinity retail store with Brian Roberts, Neil Smit and plenty of media in attendance. Two years later, signs point to progress.

Comcast closed 2016 with a 97% on-time arrival rate for technicians. Customer call volume is down 14% year-over-year, while the success rate of solving an issue on the first call is up 7%. An updated My Account app aimed at giving customers control to fix issues or schedule appointments counts nearly nine million users. More than 184 new or renovated Xfinity stores opened in 2016, with more coming in this year. Comcast also upped the number of WiFi hotspots available nationwide to 17 million.

“We’re making pretty good progress,” says Comcast Cable CEO Dave Watson. “There are 22 million less agent handled calls in a one-year period. It just provides perspective that there’s an opportunity here. The great thing is we’re going to change the way we do business in a way that’s benefi cial to the customer.” The newly installed CEO is quick to note there’s more work to be done, with customer experience evp Charlie Herrin adding that he didn’t think anyone could push the issue more than Watson’s predecessor Smit, but “Dave is proving to be equally adept at that. From an organization standpoint, everyone’s psyched because the mission continues.”

The impact on customer experience permeates everything at the MSO. “You’d be hard pressed to fi nd any meeting where customer experience isn’t discussed,” says Herrin. “I don’t think that was certainly the case at the end of 2014. In many ways, I don’t think the culture has changed now, but the tools that we have now and the focus has changed. Culturally, we always wanted to be competitive and always wanted to take care of our customers, but we didn’t always put in the time to make sure we questioned processes twice and put the customer front and center at every decision.”

One of those tools has been the Net Promoter System, which gives the viewpoint of the customer (ie, not just internal metrics) and provides for frontline employees what Herrin describes as an “immediate megaphone” into the business. Comcast is in the fi nal stages of rolling it out throughout the company. While many companies that use NPS focus on the customer survey aspect and their Net Promoter scores, Comcast is focusing equally, if not more, on the employee piece of the system. That means building time into workfl ow for huddles to discuss surveys and responses, with the leaders of these meetings logging their issues at an elevated priority so they can be resolved.
Maybe it’s a policy that needs to be changed or the right tool internally isn’t available. “That’s the virtuous circle where the employee really starts to feel like they are truly part of the solution,” Herrin explains.

Comcast also has polished its image with the introduction of technology and services that make the experience better. In the fall, it integrated Netfl ix into the X1 platform—with Watson saying that 30% of customers are either porting over their existing Netfl ix account or signing up through X1 as a new customer. Comcast is a heavy believer in its voice remote, completing a billion voice commands a quarter right now. It’s testing its IPTV service “Instant TV” that doesn’t require a set-top and is expected to launch footprint-wide by year-end. This year, it launched Tech ETA to give customers a better window into when a technician will arrive. May brought the addition of xFi, a service to better manage the home WiFi network.

Oh, and then there’s Comcast’s entry into wireless with Xfi nity Mobile, which again is being used more as an experience enhancer vs a separate, new product line. Comcast’s mobile app lets customers seamlessly go back and forth between an unlimited and pay-by-the-gig plan, plus a household can mix and match individual users. “We believe we’ll defi ne success very differently than existing wireless providers. Our objective is to give good customers good value in our mobile service with one of the keys to success churn reduction,” Watson says.

With new services continuing to launch and a new leader in place, Comcast is far from fi nished with its customer experience marathon. “If I had any area that I am personally focused and energized around, it’s picking up the pace on the experience improvements,” Watson says. “Delivering great products helps in that regard… but that’s not enough. It’s how we deliver service day in and day out.”

– Amy Maclean

Honored For:

    • Steve White (Comcast Cable)
      The Diversity List – Honoree Nomination
    • Jeffrey Smith (Comcast Cable)
      The Diversity List – Honoree Nomination
    • James Lavallee (Comcast Cable)
      The Diversity List – Honoree Nomination
    • Marge Jackson (Comcast Cable)
      The Diversity List – Honoree Nomination
    • Rich Jennings (Comcast Cable)
      The Diversity List – Honoree Nomination
  • 2017 Cablefax Top Ops
    • MSO of Year