The same is true in business, whether you promise great cable TV service or the best pizza in town. No business, large or small, can long afford to claim one thing and deliver another -- have their words ring hollow to their customers. Except, apparently, for cable TV providers, who consistently rank high in customer dissatisfaction.
Discussion of late about the proposed merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable reminds me of the “consumer jihad” blogger Bob Garfield called for against Comcast back in 2007. It grew into a vociferous online revolt by people exasperated with poor customer service. (Update here: http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/219632/comcast-merger-must-die.html )
That sort of thing lingers. I recalled Garfield's rant right away on hearing of the proposed merger between the two cable giants. The news didn’t fill me with hope that joining these two companies would do much to allay the annoyance I’ve experienced in contacting TWC about service issues, although the techs they’ve sent around to work on my cable connection over the years largely have been both pleasant and competent – as have been the people in the Philippines, Bangladesh or wherever in Asia they hire cheap ears to listen to their customers’ cable sorrows.
At this very moment, there’s a long black cable snaking across my front yard from the box at the street to the box on my house, and I so despise the Time Warner contact experience that I hesitate dialing up the frustrageous* woman with the soothing mechanical voice on their automated phone system to complain. TWC promised to have buried the cable going on six months ago after another contractor dug it up by mistake. Now they’re probably waiting ‘til spring so I can shred the thing with my mower and then blame the entire debacle on me! I can already hear them laughing.
* Frus-tra'-geous: adj. – Outrageously discouraging, baffling. Started out as a typo, but I liked the
word so much I left it there. Applies particularly well to cable TV providers.
The disconnect between a brand’s promise and the reality of indifferent customer service can live for a very long time in a customer’s mind. “We” will remember, and “we” will not return -- unless it's a monopoly like the cable company, of course. You’d think they’d get the message, because a negative reputation clearly can work against their merger now that people’s voices can be heard so readily online, as Bob Garfield’s success with Comcast Must Die (dot) com has proved.
Garfield admits that Comcast is listening better these days. Even so, he’s predicting “more righteous rage” about the proposed merger, which he says “would be a disaster” for the firms’ customers -- and society, for share of market and net neutrality reasons in addition to the customer service ones.
My Time Warner snake and I can’t wait to see what happens!
TakeAway: Be real. Make sure your brand's claims and performance match.
Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger, Bob Garfield, Comcast-must-die, brand promise, customer service, customer dissatisfaction