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Comcast says it’s been working too hard on being ‘innovative’ to deliver good customer service

Comcast knows that its customer service reputation is terrible — the question is whether it actually cares. With its proposed merger with Time Warner Cable up for regulatory review, Comcast certainly wants to at least give off the impression that it’s working night and day to make things better. DSLReports flags a new blog post from Comcast Cable president and CEO Neil Smit, who says that Comcast is finally getting around to focussing on improving its customer service with the hire of a new executive named Charlie Herrin, who “has been named SVP, Customer Experience.” What’s really noteworthy, however, are Smit’s explanations for why Comcast’s customer service has been so infamously bad over the years.

RELATED: Comcast’s infamously bad customer service isn’t incompetence – it’s a choice

“Over the last few years, we’ve been incredibly focused on product innovation and delivering great content and technology experiences,” Smit writes. “But this is only one half of the customer experience equation.  The other half is operational excellence in how we deliver service.  The way we interact with our customers – on the phone, online, in their homes – is as important to our success as the technology we provide.  Put simply, customer service should be our best product.”

Have you got that? Comcast has sadly lost focus on customer service because it’s been so busy “innovating” on your behalf.

A couple of things stand out here. First, there are plenty of companies that do innovative things and still deliver first-rate customer service. Amazon, Apple, Google, Netflix and plenty of other big-name tech firms are extremely innovative and yet have customer satisfaction ratings that are off the charts.

Second: I’ve seen things from Comcast that I have never seen in any other company, with the possible exception of Comcast’s would-be partner in crime Time Warner Cable.

From retention agents who come off as an unholy cross of Alex Forrest in Fatal Attraction and Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs, to customers who get disconnected on service calls after getting repeatedly transferred to phantom supervisors, to customers who are put on hold for three straight hours until the service center closes, to customers who get told completely contradictory things by multiple representatives, Comcast has set a standard for terrible customer that would make government bureaucrats in Kafka novels blush.

And again: Those are just examples of phone calls that have been recorded over the last three months alone. I cannot imagine the horrors that have befallen customers who haven’t thought to make an audio document of their calls.

In fact, now that I think of it, I might be starting to understand where Smit is coming from — you may not enjoy customer service that’s this terrible, but in its own way it is quite innovative.

Prior to joining BGR as News Editor, Brad Reed spent five years covering the wireless industry for Network World. His first smartphone was a BlackBerry but he has since become a loyal Android user.