Category Archives: Marketing Tools & Tactics

Why Comcast Makes Us Crazy

"This call may be monitored or recored or ignored or ridiculed or forgotten or mocked or played at our office parties for laughs." - Glasbergen cartoonDuring the latter half of July my husband Dan and I took a 10-day vacation to Scotland with friends. Lots of golf for Dan, lots of sightseeing for me.

It was a wonderful break and I came back with that relaxed vacation feeling that gives you a new perspective on your daily routine.

Shortly before 11 a.m. on Thursday August 3rd I was back in my office and noticed that the Wi-Fi had suddenly gone offline. No big deal, especially in my relaxed state.

I tried reconnecting manually and rebooting my computer, router and modem. Still no internet.

The router said we were online.

Then I noticed that my phone line was not working. Since I buy a bundle for phone, internet and cable television service, I tried turning on the TV. It registered analog service only.

Every aspect of my Comcast bundle was off.

Chatting with Comcast

I logged into my Comcast account with my cell phone. No outages in our area. According to Comcast all phone, internet and TV service was working.

While initiating an online chat, I came to a screen where I had to choose whether I was having a phone problem, an internet problem or a cable TV problem. I searched for an all-of-the-above option, but none existed.

I opted for phone service hoping they would see the need to fix all three aspects of my service.


For some companies that might be a reasonable assumption. But not for one that’s been repeatedly voted worst company in America and that prompted a 75-year-old woman to take a hammer to her local service center and start swinging.

The public sided with “The Hammer Lady.”

But I digress.

The phone support guy spent 45 minutes guiding me to reset and reboot my modem by disconnecting and reconnecting it. When that didn’t work he said I needed a technician to fix the phone and that he would forward me to internet and TV support to get help there.

I started a new chat with the internet person. After losing chat windows twice on my phone I called them.

Calling Comcast

The automated operator asked me to choose whether I was having a problem with phone, internet or TV. I said all of them. The system couldn’t handle that and spoke to me in a remedial voice.

By this point I was in danger of having Comcast obliterate that vacationed feeling that I had spent 10 days attaining.

I took a deep breath and chose the phone path again.

Jackie in phone support said that since the account was in my husband’s name I had to provide our phone number, address and the last four digits of his social security number. I couldn’t recall the latter.

“That’s okay I don’t really need that”, said Jackie.

Note to all of you calling in in the future. They don’t really need that.

I suppressed my urge to say “Then why did you ask,” and kept my pleasant self in check.

Jackie said she would send a reset to the modem remotely and that it could take up to 10 minutes to fix the phone. For the rest we needed a technician. The earliest one could come was noon the next day.

Nearly apoplectic after 75 minutes of this fruitless endeavor, I agreed to the noon appointment and hung up.

Twenty minutes later I went back down to my office to find the modem’s green lights lit.

The phone worked. The TV worked. My Wi-Fi was back up.

It took me five minutes on the automated customer service line to cancel the technician.

I was then left with the desire to purge the fury that remained inside me from the entire ordeal.

And that’s how I came to be writing a newsletter for you lovely people.

Tech Support Rage is Real

It turns out that tech support rage is a real thing, so named by mental health experts. The frustration and lack of control wrought by automated systems and robotic customer service reps can ruffle even those with Dalai Lama-like personae.

Yelling at customer support people doesn’t help and may mark you as “difficult,” prompting the rep to put you back in the queue or even “accidentally” disconnect you. I’m not kidding – there are reps who have confessed this online.

This is the nasty side of monopoly – or oligopoly – that my Economics professors did not talk about. These companies not only maximize price but they also minimize the cost of customer support.

Comcast doesn’t care because they don’t have to. Neither do other behemoth cable and mobile phone services.

The metrics these companies use to assess their customer support staff align with their cost minimization goals and thwart good service. “Cost per contact” encourages reps to spend no more than 15 minutes on the phone. To comply they just pass you to another rep.

Cost saving metrics may also explain why Comcast’s customer support was structured to handle only one service at a time though the majority of their customers bundle at least two services.

Getting Tech Support Sans Rage

What can you do?

Personally you can:

  1. Use social media to request support. Tweet or send a Facebook message to the company. Customer service experts say those methods may get a faster response as fewer people use them and as they signal your ability to broadcast your displeasure at (or joy from) the company’s customer service.
  2. Opt for “sales” or “to place an order” in the automated phone service menu to increase your chances of getting an onshore agent. Tech support is more often offshore, increasing your risk for language difficulties.
  3. Maintain your cool. Meditate, take deep breaths, do whatever you need to be cordial on the phone.
  4. Use or to learn how to bypass the automated systems and speak with a live person.

Make Your Brand’s Customer Service Better

Unless your brand has a monopoly, you can’t afford to lose customers to poor service. To grow your brand, ensure that your customer service is the antithesis of Comcast’s.

  1. Be customer focused. Understand your customers’ wants and needs. Design your products and services to address these.
  2. Provide humans immediately when customers seek support.
  3. Learn the most frequent complaints and try to address them systemically. If a supplier is providing poor quality products or a subcontractor is delivering inferior service, fix the situation or replace them.
  4. Choose metrics that encourage your reps to be customer focused. Begin by asking and tracking:
    1. How fast is your customer’s problem resolved?
    2. How many people does your customer have to talk to to get resolution?
    3. Can you improve on those?
    4. Do customers who request support buy your brand again afterward?

Customers are smart and learn from their experience with your brand. Now I know to try social media to get customer support from Comcast. If I ever lose all three services again with no area outage, I will request a modem reset upfront.

Thanks for reading. I feel much better now. I’m going to look at my Scotland photos again.

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For Better Marketing, Channel Your Inner Three-Year-Old

Olympic Rings Donut Formation, For Better Marketing Channel Your Inner Three Year Old

Image Source: The Huffington Post

In the summer of 1991, when the unemployment rate in Boston hit 8.4 percent, I had the unfortunate need to find a job.

I was transitioning from a full-time MBA student at Boston College to part-time. I was temping during the day to pay the bills. Two nights each week I attended a three-hour summer class.

I read the want ads religiously. Veryfine Products ran an ad for a marketing research analyst in Brandweek, a marketing trade magazine, and I enthusiastically applied. read more

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10 Brand Storytelling Lessons from Bruce Springsteen

Book cover image to Bruce Springsteen's Born to Run

Image source:

When I read Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography Born to Run in January, I learned that he and I have a few things in common.

  • Both of us like the smell of coffee but not the taste.
  • Neither of us can read sheet music.
  • Both of us grew up in New Jersey (okay I knew that), in a family with two girls and one boy.
  • Both of us learned our craft on the job.

read more

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Score More From Your Marketing

Fisher Stadium at Lafayette College - football game in progressOn Saturday September 24th I spent a beautiful evening with my family at Fisher Stadium in Easton, Pennsylvania, watching the Lafayette College Leopards play football against the Villanova Wildcats.

The weather was about all the Leopards had going for them. read more

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Eye of the Buyer

Eye of the buyerTwo weeks ago Fidelity took me on a frustrating financial odyssey. 

This summer Fidelity ditched long-time credit card partners American Express and Bank of America to consolidate its service with Elan Financial Services.  Anyone holding a Fidelity credit card received a new Fidelity Visa Signature card from Elan.

I was one of the 550,000+ who received a new card.  It was unclear to me whether I needed to re-designate where I wanted my rewards to go, so I tried to log into the new Fidelity Visa card website. read more

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How to Use Surveys Strategically

Survey on a clipboard - how to do surveys strategically and wellOur world has gotten feedback happy.  And it’s annoying.

In a 48-hour period at the beginning of May I received five surveys.

One paper survey via snail mail with 66 questions to rate my son’s pediatrician.  One online survey from a hotel I had stayed at the prior weekend and another from a hotel stay two weeks before.  A third online survey from the conference I had just attended, and a fourth one from OpenTable for the restaurant I had dined in the Friday before. read more

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Should Your Brand Be on Facebook?

Facebook like thumbs up hand and thumbs down handWhen I woke up on April 3, 2009, I did not know that I would be joining Facebook that day.

Around 8pm I had just connected on LinkedIn with friends from my high school years when one of them wrote, “You need to get on Facebook! We have been posting some old group photos that you are in.”

Talk about an incentive to join. read more

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Vacation by Chocolate

Evelyn's Original Chocolate Wrapper from Hershey's Chocolate World brand experienceMy husband Dan has a particular knack when planning vacations.  I’m not talking about posh accommodations or exotic destinations or exclusive restaurants.

When he was helping to plan our trip to Paris to celebrate my 40th birthday, he discovered that a major chocolate exhibition was going to be there at the same time.  Besides sampling and purchase opportunities, there were multiple exhibits including a replica of a 17th century dress made of chocolate. read more

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Cases of List-taken Identity

Good list management means seeing the customer's point of view.For the past year I’ve been immersed in my son AJ’s college search.  We’ve visited 11 schools, some of them twice.  It’s been fun and one of the funny outcomes is that I have realized that I would be happy to go to college now. 

I’m not serious of course.  But there are some schools who think otherwise.  Three colleges have begun courting me. read more

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Cheap Skate Marketing

Evelyn's black boot collection for brand storytellingI love autumn in New England, so I’m a happy camper up here right now.  And yes, autumn presages a long winter, but I have found ways to enjoy that too.

One of the benefits of New England’s long winters is that you can wear boots six months of the year.  I’ve gained an affinity for black boots and wear them almost every day once the cold sets in.

In a decidedly un-Imelda Marcos-move though, I’ve not amassed a huge collection.

Instead I have a few favorite pairs that I keep in good order with a yearly visit or two to my buddy Oleg, the cobbler in Natick Center. read more

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