Open Letter from a Home Security Field Technician

Last week we received a customer review that differed from any other review we've had. The field tech going by the user handle "TechOnEdge" wrote us a review on the Comcast review page. Here's what they wrote:

As a field tech I do residential video, internet, phone, and home security. I also do the same lines of service for commercial and will be doing Commercial security when it's released as well as PRI and Voice edge (advanced commercial trunking products).

When I go to do an Xfinity Home install I first review billing information with the customer, then technical features and options, I confirm how the physical install is going to be done (where sensors will go etc), and then I do the paperwork. I do all of this before I even begin the install for a very specific reason. By the time I've proceeded through those steps, 40% of my installs will cancel before physically doing anything.

Why do 40% of my installs cancel? Because as many of these reviews indicate, there is ALOT of miss-information that occurs from the call center. Why does this happen? Well, there use to be an emphasis on providing local call center support. Then in 2012 Comcast decided to "standardize". Suddenly local management didn't have the power it once had to influence procedural decisions. I can only assume middle to upper level managers worked to outsource call centers in order to show some kind of short term gains so they could hop to the next rung of the ladder with no concern for long term impacts on customer perception or reality in general as it pertains to front line employees and the customer experience.

When I do complete an install, I make note of all issues encountered. Technical, procedural, customers being miss-informed about billing or features, etc. I then forward those examples. Our local mangers are VERY good about taking this information and fighting for changes. But it's no different than a local government employee trying to take something all the way to congress... and we all know how well that goes. Issues do get addressed but alot of ridiculous and often unethical things occur in the process. Don't kid your selves, this is the reality of any large corporation. It's a human hierarchy where the corrupt tend to float to the top and the good people on the bottom of the pyramid get paid the least and do the most.

One issue that I expect to see Comcast steadily improve on is it's software/programming capability. They were originally a cable company but they have to approach software development to the level of Apple or Google to remain competitive. Those company's release stable products from the get go, and when they are beta testing they clearly say so. They don't market a product as if its a stable release and then fix bugs on live customers. With advanced products like Xfinity Home or X1, there is no room for software glitches any more. Comcast has no choice but to adapt to this.

There are many frustrating aspects to being a field tech. I carry a mind boggling amount of equipment to be able to install and repair the various types of technology I work with. I deal with customers and IT departments that are sometimes practically frothing at the mouth with frustrations, all while having upper managers that outsource my own internal tech-support, dealing with call-center reps hanging up me in-front of my customers. Etc. But we as humans are amazingly resilient, so most of our techs can handle all of this and still try very hard to fix all of the customers issues. But for me Xfinity Home puts me over the edge. It's not that bad on it's own but with everything else layered on top of it, all the call-center BS, it's the nail in the coffin. And I'm not even talking about Quad installs. It takes 4 hours for XH alone and you route us to 4 product installs with a PM timeframe? Can you do math?...

But I digress... So what do I think of the Xfinity Home product? Once your expectations are set straight on what it is and is not, and you have a realistic picture of the billing involved, not the pre-taxed, promotional rates that don't include early termination fees, city permit fees, etc, but the actual dollar for dollar cost that's absurdly difficult to get explained to you... once you get past all that, at the moment (not factoring in future firmware upgrades that will no doubt re-introduce bugs again) it actually works pretty well once it's setup right.

I have this product at my own home and never have problems with it but I can attest from my own day to day customer interactions that the negative reviews here in regards to the customer service experience are sadly, very very true. There are some techs that the technology has just out grown. Most human beings do not have the level of patience to deal with the amount of issues that result from the call center. If Comcast hopes to have any hope of reversing this issue they need to understand that you get what you pay for. If you don't want to pay for local support, you're customer service will be poor. If you layer frustration upon frustration on your customer facing employees, it will trickle down to the customer perception. Stop racing to release unstable products, focus on retaining a reputation of quality. Start routing 2 techs on each job to share the burden of complexity, don't put twice as many units on them. Stop giving techs incentive to drop the ball by giving them a go back on themselves when they were just trying to resolve an on-going intermittent issue for the customer. Start holding sales reps accountable for slamming customers with unwanted products, the short term gains are not worth the long term damage in reputation. I believe all of this can be improved in the future.

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