VKI Studios is now Cardinal Path! www.CardinalPath.com
Learn more about Cardinal Path

Comcast Wins by Engaging the Right People on Twitter

I read an interesting article in the Boston Globe yesterday about a disgruntled Comcast customer, C.C. Chapman, who Twittered a complaint about his TV reception and got some stellar customer service. Within minutes a Comcast customer service rep contacted him on Twitter and within a day he had a technician at his house to fix the problem. This quick response turned this disgruntled customer into a brand evangelist almost overnight; the Boston Globe caught wind and created a little bit of a buzz regarding Comcast's customer service. Come to think of it, this could be the first time I've ever seen a positive story about Comcast on Digg's homepage. This was a huge win for Comcast as their reputation online has been less than enviable to say the least.

What I find significant about this story is not the fact that they responded so quickly but who they responded to; C.C. Chapman knows his way around the web and when he talks, people listen. He runs his own marketing agency, The Advance Guard, as well as a number of very popular podcasts including the award winning Accident Hash. As you can imagine, this guy has a lot of reach online. I would be pretty surprised to learn that they addressed his complaint by chance considering that another tech blogging power-house, Michael Arrington, had the exact same experience a couple of months earlier.

In his post, Arrington suggests that using Tweetscan to monitor complaints on twitter is a good way to nip potentially big problems at the bud. The Boston Globe article mentions companies assigning employees to specific social media monitoring tasks such as Southwest Airline's Chief Twitter Officer. Comcast is most probably doing both. I would also speculate that Comcast is using a much more robust system of reporting that would allow them to track speaker reach, influence, sentiment and much more when it comes to deciding which mentions of their brand to respond to. There are a number of companies out there who are providing clients with detailed, segmented and actionable reports that give brands an incredibly clear picture of who's saying what about them online.

The image below is only part of Visible Technologies' TruCast reports. As you can see, their 'Ecosystem' maps out the main people discussing your brand online and makes it very easy to see who's being nice, who's being mean, how they're connected to each other and what sort of pull they have. By clicking through to each speaker, you can see exactly what they're saying, who's listening and engage them directly.

click for larger view

Andiamo Systems has a very intuitive and newly redesigned UI that makes it easy to find what's being said and who's saying it. They provide a 1-100 rating of the speaker influence, which is a factor of speaker reach and authority (you mouse over speaker influence to see the 1-5 rating for reach and authority.). Again, you can click through to the specific mention and engage the speaker directly.

click for larger view

With this level of reporting available to them, I don't think there's any way Comcast caught on to Chapman and Arrington's complaints by chance. This Digg comment shows that not everybody gets this type of 1st Class treatment; however, I'm not sure it would be a viable solution to respond to every complaint that comes through Twitter or is posted on a blog. By responding to the right complaints in a timely fashion, Comcast secured a number of positive high-profile tweets and blog posts (not to mention an article in the Boston Globe) that helped combat the bad image they've been suffering from online.

My two quick blurbs don't do any justice to the true capacity and functionality of Visible Tech or Andiamo. If you find their tools interesting, I highly suggest requesting a demo here and watching one here

Comments (Comment Moderation is enabled. Your comment will not appear until approved.)
Thanks for the kind words. Our Twitter initiative is actually a lot simpler than you describe. We believe that playing to win is all about building strong customer relationships, one at a time.

It's true that we monitor the blogs, but Michael got attention not because he's Tech Crunch, but because he's a customer. We don't knowingly prioritize anybody because of the reach they may have as Internet opinion leaders.

The main benefit of our Twitter initiative has been the ability to get near real time feedback and to aggregate it to identify and attack root causes. Frank Eliason's @comcastcares team in Philly may get the kudos, but they are part of a larger team of over 100,000 Comcasters who use the information we get from the web to build a better overall customer care infrastructure.

Beyond the data and the processes, the best part of all of this for me has been making many new friends who have continue to give us the gift of feedback, long after we've addressed their initial issue.

The end result is a series of relationships that will help us be even more competitive and to continue to build a great company that adds value to the lives of our customers, employees and shareholders.

Thanks for the shout out!

Scott Westerman
Area Vice President
# Posted By Scott Westerman | 7/9/08 11:10 AM
I just want to offer a correction, we reach out to as many people as possible. It has nothing to do with status or their involvement in social media. If someone needs assistance, isn't the right thing to do to help? That is just the nature of Customer Service. Thank you for guiding me to the one that was missed. I just sent a tweet.

Frank Eliason
@ComcastCares on Twitter
# Posted By ComcastCares | 7/9/08 11:30 AM
Hi Scott,

Thanks for your comment and insight. You prove once again that timely engagement adds a welcome human element to your brand... with the model you just described, everyone wins.

Kudos again to your team and keep up the good work!


# Posted By Rami A. | 7/9/08 11:30 AM
Hi Frank,

Thanks for your comment. This is one of those instances where I'm glad to be proven wrong!

# Posted By Rami A. | 7/9/08 11:33 AM
Rami - I don't think you were "proven wrong". The reality is that everyone deserves that same level of customer services as a the previous comments indicate, but the truth is that not everyone will get the same level of service because of resource constraints (amongst other issues). So as your post suggest, given that it is highly likely that the resources aren't in place to provide absolutely everyone with the same level of tier one customer service, how does one optimize the delivery of how they offer customer service? It will likely be the case that all companies including VKI will say that everyone deserves the same level of customer service, and this is true. But will all companies help everyone they can equally or will they prioritize how they help people (still helping everyone that they can given their resource constraints).
# Posted By John Hossack | 7/9/08 5:01 PM
Comcast is not fooling anyone. They're still the crappiest company I've *ever* dealt with! They can Twitter all they want but they will still suck and will continue to gauge their consumers.

That throttling fiasco is a nail in their coffin when it comes to credibility.
# Posted By mike | 7/11/08 9:54 PM
Hi Rami,

Thanks for mentioning Andiamo Systems. Glad you like it! We strive to surface the most actionable information on social media activity in a very intuitive interface and reporting suite.

We offer a 14-day free trial so any readers here feel free to contact us at sales@andiamosystems.com for a demo and trial.

# Posted By John Hingley | 7/14/08 7:52 PM
I first started following @comcastcares after seeing one of my friends send a reply tweet. I thought he was making a joke, but then I discovered that there was a real profile for that nickname. That made me curious, so I started following @comcastcares and got a response I didn't expect when I tweeted that I was following him out of disbelief that any Comcast employee really cared. I received a tweet with a link to a Google search of articles regarding the topic.

So today I put it to the test and inquired about my billing plan. The results literally left me speechless. My tweet was responded to by a real customer service rep over the phone within a few hours and my bill was adjusted (exceeding my expectations) shortly after the initial contact.

I'm definitely impressed and this experience has made me evaluate how I think of Comcast. That's pretty substantial considering my experience when my cable was installed was so bad I posted it on YouTube.


Thanks, Comcast. I appreciate you (and Frank... and Ms. Brantley).
# Posted By David Kotowski | 7/15/08 4:51 PM