The True Lesson From Comcast: Hiring is Everything

Have you spent eight minutes of your time listening to the brutal customer service retention call between tech journalist, Ryan Bock and the retention specialist? The call itself is brutal and hard to listen to. At times, I was agonizing and wondered how Ryan, wasn’t demanding to speak to a supervisor or using obscenities on the call. I don’t have the patience or time to waste listening to that guy when I have a business I’m running.

I’ve had to deal with retention specialists before including Comcast when we relocated last year, and I can assure you that we never dealt with anything like Ryan experienced himself before. My guess is the retention specialist was compensated for not only converting that customer to sticking around but also the time spent on the call. The longer the call, the more likely they will be retained. Plus, Ryan is a journalist looking for an unbelievable news story.

Hiring is Everything

If you haven’t listened to the call, it’s below. The lesson from Comcast is about a lot of things, but the heart of the matter for me is that hiring is everything. Not just hiring the right contractor or retention specialist. I’m unsure if the representative from Comcast was an actual employee or if he was working for a subcontractor that works on behalf of the larger organization. This happens quite often in the call center and customer service world. Large organizations outsource customer service and call center efforts to organizations who specialize in these types of things. Back in my days working for OfficeMax, I served as the HR Director and was responsible for the Telesales Center where we called in businesses to sell them paper and office supplies. The work was done in house, and I can tell you from experience, it was extremely challenging finding good people that would perform to expectations at the salary they were expected to accomplish these things. This challenge alone was the reason I started this blog and joined Twitter to recruit and hire candidates in places and where the competition wasn’t searching. One of our major competitors at the time was Office Depot who outsourced their B2B and telesales selling to another company.

Employees Are Ambassadors of Your Candidate & Consumer Brand

Regardless of whether Comcast outsourced or hired in house for their retention specialists, it doesn’t matter. That person is the representative of the brand. They are an ambassador of not only your candidates, employees but also customers of your brand and company. They are hired to do a job and their trainers are hired to train them during new hire orientation. Equally important is that managers are responsible for coaching and leading these teams. HR has a hand in the game as they are responsible for moving these employees through systems, providing support and most importantly setting compensation standards and bonus structures for those that meet expectations for the particular job at a company.

The Comcast customer service debacle isn’t really about getting better customer service. It’s about hiring, training, incentivizing and building a pipeline of great talent because without it, you get that guy who is now the person that is synonymous with the service they receive at the number 1 cable and internet providing company. If that’s the case, I think I hear AOL dialup services calling my name.

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell (@jmillermerrell) is a workplace change agent, author and consultant focused on human resources and talent acquisition living in Austin, TX. Recognized by Forbes as a top 50 social media influencer and is a global speaker. She’s the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource and host of the Workology Podcast.


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