Comcast, acknowledging problems, acts to reform customer service

Comcast, acknowledging problems, acts to reform customer service
The Comcast logo on one of the company's vehicles, in Pittsburgh. (Gene J. Puskar / Associated Press)

Cable giant Comcast Corp. is taking steps to reform its customer service.

The Philadelphia company said Friday that it was reorganizing its executive team and promoting a top executive from its engineering group to oversee interactions with customers.


An accomplished Comcast executive -- Charlie Herrin -- is now senior vice president for "customer experience."

"Our customers deserve the best experience every time they interact with us," Comcast Cable Chief Executive Neil Smit wrote in a blog post Friday announcing the move.

"While we've made progress, we need to do a better job to make sure those interactions are excellent … from the moment a customer orders a new service, to the installation, to the way we communicate with them, to how we respond to any issues," Smit said.

It has been a bruising summer for the nation's largest cable operator. The company has ranked at the bottom of customer service surveys, and recordings of agonizing experiences with Comcast phone representatives have gone viral on the Internet.

In one now infamous exchange, a Northern California man recorded his conversation in July, in which he is hectored on the phone for nearly 10 minutes by a Comcast customer retention agent when the man called to cancel his TV and high-speed Internet service.

In another case, a Chicago-area man was hit with a $1,000 early termination fee after he canceled his service, which included home security, after a series of Comcast-installed thermostats malfunctioned.  Comcast has since resolved that problem.

"Charlie will partner with leaders across all business units, including customer service, technical operations, sales, marketing, training and development, and product innovation to reimagine the customer experience and ensure that we are delighting our customers at each touch point," Smit said.

Herrin has been with Comcast 15 years.  Most recently, he worked as senior vice president of product design and development, responsible for the team that designed and deployed Comcast's Xfinity products, including the company's next-generation TV experience.

Comcast's X1 platform is widely viewed as among the best in the industry.

Herrin will join Tom Karinshak, who serves as senior vice president of customer service. Herrin now reports to Smit and Dave Watson, chief operating officer of Comcast Cable.

"We are addressing some very real pain points that are making it easier for our employees to serve our customers, and easier for our customers to do business with us," Smit said.

Comcast is awaiting approval from the federal government for its proposed $45-billion take-over of Time Warner Cable.  If Comcast succeeds with its acquisition, the company would become the largest Internet service and pay-TV provider in the Los Angeles region with nearly 2 million customer homes.

Twitter: @MegJamesLAT