A brand promise story with a happy ending?

June 3, 2008 at 3:27 pm 4 comments

By Chris Scott

Everybody has a horror story dealing with a utility company – from telephone to gas to electric service provider. But few of these companies inspire more customer wrath than the cable company, especially one with a shoddy reputation.

How many times has a friend moaned about the cable company’s missed installation appointments, surprise billing errors, intermittent service or rude customer service?

The complaints I’ve heard usually involve one of the biggest players: Comcast. In recent years, it’s moved into providing Internet and phone services alongside its cable TV offerings for residences and now for businesses. Oh joy. Now they can screw up all of our electronic connections to the outside world simultaneously!

So when we decided to research a new Internet and Internet-based phone service provider for Hodge Schindler, Comcast was last on our list, especially because its push into business services was an unknown quantity. We had visions of the phone cutting out for no logical reason, or losing e-mail and Web access for an extended period of time.

Imagine our surprise when Comcast (and its Business Services department) came through not only with Internet speeds four times faster than our previous service, but also with reliable VoIP phone service for our 10-person office. We’ve had the service for nearly a month now and have (knock wood) experienced very few problems. (The company even threw in free basic cable TV service for our conference room set.)

And all of this costs about 30 percent less a month than the old service for the next three years – the regular price, not an introductory rate.

Not that there weren’t some glitches that had us questioning the entire deal for a time: pre-installation issues with certain Comcast technicians telling us to pay a separate contractor to wire the cable from our building’s basement to our offices; unreturned phone calls seeking answers on installation timing; and, yes, a missed appointment from a technician.

Our skepticism was heightened when it appeared as though Comcast wouldn’t live up to promised pre-installation services due to a lazy technician who lied about his actions (or lack thereof) to the bosses back in the office.

Still, the tale ended happily, partly because we contacted a newly installed Comcast customer ombudsman. And also, I think, because the company really wants to expand its local business customer base. As the beneficiaries so far, that’s pretty cool.

So what have we learned?

  • Comcast is trying (with some success) to overcome its negative brand associations and really is able to offer reliable Internet and Internet-based phone service to businesses at reasonable rates.
  • Albeit with a bit of arm-twisting, Comcast is willing to do what it takes to expand its business client roster, to the extent of wiring an old, not cable-ready building.
  • Sometimes it pays off for customers to take a risk, even when a potential vendor’s poor reputation makes you take pause at doing business with them.

Let’s keep that last point in mind the next time a company suggests giving them a try for a service you might be shopping around for. We certainly plan to.

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Entry filed under: Agency Management, Resources.

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Nathan  |  June 5, 2008 at 8:57 pm

    Chris,

    Thanks for your review of your experience with Comcast. How’s the quality of your VoIP service? Our company is considering Comcast as a possible option to our existing DSL service.

    Reply
  • 2. Chris  |  June 18, 2008 at 9:31 pm

    I have to admit, Nathan, that the VoIP from Comcast is not only reliable, but also fairrly high quality. Our former T1 service was fine as well, but we have experienced no complaints about the sound quality so far. I’d definitely recommend Comcast as a way to go. (Be aware, however, that if you lose your Internet service, which can happen from time to time, you also lose all phone service. But for the price, it’s pretty much worth it.)

    Regards,

    Chris

    Reply
  • 3. Nathan  |  June 24, 2008 at 10:31 pm

    Chris,

    Thank you for your thoughts. We are still weighing our options. Your comment about losing internet service from time to time worries me a bit. Our DSL service has been VERY reliable. We are out on the west coast so the severe weather the midwest and east coast experiences doesn’t really factor in for us. The times you’ve been down, how long before Comcast has it fixed? Did it require a call from your end or were they proactive?

    Reply
  • 4. Chris  |  June 25, 2008 at 7:56 pm

    Nathan,

    Definitely didn’t mean to alarm you. We have not had any service glitches with Comcast and I’m not expecting one. And since they have been so responsive in other areas, I’m confident that there will be no issues should an outage happen. (We also have specific contacts within the company, so we can get pretty much immediate fixes as needed.) But, again, so far so good–the recommendation stands!

    Reply

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