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Comcast’s crazy customer retention policy is leaked, prompting executives to respond

August 7th, 2014

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worst for Comcast…

Comcast-Logo (1) Remember that Comcast customer service representative who just wouldn’t let Ryan Block cancel his service? That employee was in Comcast’s retention department, which is a customer’s last stop on their way out.

Retention specialists are trained to persuade a customer to stay, or at least not cancel all their lines of service.

“We locked down the ability for most customer service reps to disconnect accounts,” a billing systems manager who worked for Comcast from 2008 to 2013 told The Verge. “We queue the calls for customers looking to disconnect to a retention team who are authorized to give more deeply discounted products to keep subscribers. Even if the subscriber disconnects cable, maybe we can keep them on internet or voice.”

A current employee at Comcast who participated in the Comcast Confessions series provided The Verge with a copy of the 20-page guidelines the company uses for evaluating retention specialists. The guidelines are divided into 13 sections:

1. Greet customer clearly
2. Clarify reason for call
3. Relate and empathize
4. Take control
5. Set the agenda
6. Ask targeted questions
7. Consider unstated needs / active listening
8. Take ownership / make offer
9. Overcome objections
10. Close the save
11. Confirm details
12. End on a positive note
13. Documentation

Following each guideline — from greeting the customer clearly to avoiding “trap words” like “disconnect, downgrade, cancel” — earns the specialist more points. Other actions, such as forgetting to perform a credit check or failing to attempt to save the customer, are “auto-fail behaviors.”

It’s pretty standard call center stuff, but Comcast throws in some of its own tactics. If a customer is calling to cancel cable because they only watch Netflix, the rep is directed to push an internet speed upgrade. If a customer who says they’re moving declines to provide a new address, Comcast warns the rep to “ask probing questions” because the customer “may instead be planning a move to a competitor.” If a customer wants to check with their roommates before agreeing to a sale, the rep is supposed to communicate urgency by reminding the customer how tough it is to get an installation appointment.

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