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Businesses The Almighty Buck

Comcast Training Materials Leaked 251

WheezyJoe writes: The Verge reports on leaked training manuals from Comcast, which show how selling services is a required part of the job, even for employees doing tech support. The so-called "4S training material" explicitly states that 20 percent of a call center employee's rating for a given call is dependent on effectively selling the customer new Comcast services. "There are pages of materials on 'probing' customers to ferret out upsell opportunities, as well as on batting aside customer objections to being told they need to buy something. 'We can certainly look at other options, but you would lose which you mentioned was important to you,' the guide suggests clumsily saying to an angry customer who doesn't want to buy any more Comcast services." Images of the leaked documents are available on the Verge, making for fun reading.
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Comcast Training Materials Leaked

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @10:12PM (#47708967)

    This is totally normal for ISPs. up-selling, attempts to retain customers at any cost. At comcast it was pressed on our call center tech support guys fairly hard but moreso on customer service reps in the billing/accounts department. at AT&T there was literally a whole department called "the save team" who got financial incentives to retain customers. if you called to cancel, you would be put on the line with the save team. they could get credit for a save if they could transfer a customer back to technical support "oh, our tech guys can fix that problem for you and your service will be fine, plus i gave you a month credit" (or something to that affect). and then the tech staff would get this transferred call about how their printer didnt work. completely unrelated, and after being bounced around and on hold, then being told "uhhh. we cant help you with that", they got right pissed and demanded to cancel again. the save team rep, already got a notch on their saved belt but the customer still quit. it was a corrupt system right to the core :)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @10:20PM (#47709011)

    Sure, but in those stores, they don't hold credit - damaging overcharges and fees over your head, either. Comcast has your ass in a sling, and wants to keep it there- and will, until you threaten to sue.

    Sound like your local Walmart, still?

  • by scoticus ( 1303689 ) on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @10:37PM (#47709103)
    I worked tech support for Time Warner about 5 years ago. We were not 'required' to sell, but we were most certainly pushed to. We were reminded constantly, and people who did sell a lot were praised while the rest of us got the 'why aren't you more like this guy?' treatment. Our calls were randomly selected for review, and if there wasn't 'sufficient' effort put into selling, we were criticized heavily. In these reviews, it seems selling was weighted more heavily than whether we actually solved the issue properly or according to procedure, since nobody really gave you guff for failing to satisfy a customer's tech needs as long as you didn't piss them off. You would think that sending onsite techs out to jobs that could have been solved over the phone would get you in trouble. But as long as you sell, sell, sell, you got a gold freakin star. You ever wonder why you are on hold for so long? Because techs are trying to sell shit after they fix the customer's problem instead of hanging up the damn phone and taking the next call. Multiply that by 30+ calls per tech, 3 or so minutes per call, and you see what a giant waste of time that is. I left that horrible job after six months. I spoke with one of my old coworkers who lasted a little longer than I did, and he said nearly half of the 'veteran' techs left shortly after I had, some of them quite spectacularly. ID badges were thrown, "fuck this sales bullshit" was heard often. These bloody companies have dedicated sales staff, why load down techs with this shit?
  • by sheetsda ( 230887 ) <> on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @10:38PM (#47709107)

    "...attempts to retain customers at any cost."

    I use this to my advantage.

    1. A competing trash service sent me a flier offering the same service at about 60% of the price I was paying. The current service matched the price for 1 year. Even if they're not making a dime on me they're dividing their fuel cost one more way.

    2. Last month I called Time Warner and told them I wanted them to match the introductory price of competing internet service (~75% of regular price for 1 year). They did. This is the second time I've had my price lowered to an introductory rate without being a new customer.

    When these prices run out I'll call again and get the rate lowered again. Or I'll cancel and go to the competitor. Either way, these add up to about $360 saved this year for two 15-minute phone calls. Pretty good $/hr.

  • Tech Support.... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SlowCanuck ( 1692198 ) on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @11:20PM (#47709313)
    I used to work for Fedex tech support - we were supposed to: - Have the call answered by the second ring - Not up sell anything - Be polite and courteous at all times - Troubleshoot anything that is wrong with the computer - the job started back in the day before all software had TCP/IP, and we had to dial in, Oh and Win95 was supported. - All our calls were to be logged and notes made for helping the next guy if they ever called in again. In the same building we had AT&T WorldNet, they had to: - Not answer unless the customer was on hold for at least 1/2 and hour - Priority was given to new customers setting up - When they closed for the night - all calls were left in Que and answered in the morning, if still there. For some reason AT&T always had openings?!?
  • by msauve ( 701917 ) on Tuesday August 19, 2014 @11:49PM (#47709443)
    Of course it's a joke. Because it's nowhere close to a free market - all utilities use public "rights"-of-way to make a profit. That legitimately exposes them to regulation. If a real free market is desired, then they would all have to negotiate rights-of-way with every property owner along their routes. And that includes the public (government), from which the price is regulation.

    Even under a system similar to that in place (access in exchange for regulation), unless those rights-of-way are made available to all providers, there is no free market competition. There is no "free market" unless all competitors can compete in every market (location).
  • by schnell ( 163007 ) <me@sch n e l l . net> on Wednesday August 20, 2014 @12:27AM (#47709609) Homepage

    Ugh. Please don't make me sound like I'm defending Comcast, which I loathe.

    But the fact is that every large consumer-oriented business has a part of their playbook that every employee who touches the customer should be a salesperson. Are you the McDonald's cashier? You're selling. Are you the rep in a Verizon store? You're selling. Those are easy. Do you work the fry machine? Then you don't talk to the customer, and you're not selling. That's the difference in your example.

    But pretty much every consumer services megacorp has done the research and learned that every "touch" you have with a customer needs to be a selling opportunity, and you get very good sales results - which seems counterintuitive, but it's true - if you do so. When you call for support, that's a touch and up-sell opportunity even if you were angry when you called in; same when the DSL/cable installer shows up to your house, even if they are late showing up. You may be angry at first, but a shitload of real-world research shows that most consumers are simply unaware of any given company's latest/greatest/whatever, and you might be interested in it once you have vented your frustration with $MEGACORP.

    Again, I have no love for Comcast (I am a Xfinity subscriber in Seattle for TV/Internet and for more than two years I have struggled to read my cable bill and figure it out in a line item fashion) but they are certainly no more evil than almost any other large company in this respect.

  • by evilviper ( 135110 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2014 @02:00AM (#47709911) Journal

    most of us don't have a choice. It's Comcast or no TV.

    TV antennas have worked since the 1940s. With the digital switchover is the 2000s, people even further out can get a digitally-perfect picture in higher quality with less artifacts than any cable or satellite provider offers. And you probably have several times more TV channels available to you than you would expect, possibly several good ones that are not even carried on cable.

    Since the 90s, direct broadcast satellite has been an option for the overwhelming majority of people. If you've got any way to put a tiny dish where it'll have a view towards the equator, you can get subscription TV while avoiding your local cable monopoly.

    And today, with high speed DSL and FIOS, you may be able to get more content than you can watch, for under $10/month. Even if you choose not to go this route, the threat of it is likely to keep your cable co in-line and behaving themselves.

Don't tell me how hard you work. Tell me how much you get done. -- James J. Ling