Generate Positive Referrals through Superior Customer Service

February 26, 2008

A company’s bureaucratic rules and regulations can be their own worst enemy when it comes to serving customers. Add that to the fact that employees seldom feel empowered to break the rules in favor of the customer and you have the main reason why negative word of mouth is generated.


I’ve been a Comcast customer for over 20 years and until recently purchased my broadband Internet, cable and phone service from them. Well, after several poor experiences with their voice over internet phone service I decided to go back to AT&T.


Now with Comcast we’re talking about the largest player in an industry with the worst track record on the planet in terms of customer satisfaction. Customers and even some of their employees are so displeased with them, that a web site was created called ComcastMustDie.com. I’m not into piling on, but geez, you’d think that they would try to do something, anything to turn things around.


Anyway, I get my first bill without the phone service and of course I’m expecting it to be lower. Not a chance, the new bill is higher than my old one. A call to Comcast reveals that my bundled plan allowed for a discounted rate on cable service that included a bazillion channels including all the premium movie channels.


About two weeks later, I get a call from Comcast saying that I have to return the modem they installed for my phone service or I would be charged for it. I realized it would be useless to ask them to come and get “their” modem because doing something that simple for a long term customer just is not Comcast’s standard operating procedure.


The lesson here for small business is that every negative customer interaction can be turned into a positive just by doing the right thing. Imagine if I was told that reducing the services in the bundled plan could result in additional charges. I might have thought twice about leaving, despite the nagging problems with the phone service. Or what if the rep on the phone, seeing that I was a long term customer who has given much money to Comcast over the years, was calling to set up an appointment to come pick up their equipment. I might be singing Comcast’s praises instead of spreading more negative stuff. Maybe not, but hey… it could happen.


Here’s a tip for small businesses: Do the right thing by your customers. Rethink your policies and procedures from your customers’ point of view and empower your employees to go the extra mile for the customer. Great customer service is the easiest thing you can do to ensure positive word of mouth. Take a look at what companies like Nordstrom, Zappos.com, Amazon.com and the Ritz Carlton are willing to do for customers. Some things may cost a little more in the short term, but when you think about dealing with customers as building a relationship rather than completing a transaction its well worth the cost over the long term.



  1. I had the same experience with Comcast for my cable. We switched providers as Comcast rates kept increasing. They said they would come get their modem on 2 separate occasions, never showed, and next thing I know I was getting letters that it was going to a collection agency. After weeks of phone calls and trying to get ahold of someone who was even remotely capable of answering a question about it, I finally got a rep who followed through. Of course, I also had to trudge over to their office to return the *!%@$@^@ modem! I won’t use them again for my service and tell everyone not to use them either! Perfect example of how NOT to treat your customers.

  2. omg.. good work, man

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