(#218) Stop Saying “I Understand!”

Don’t guarantee what you cannot deliver.

By now you probably heard the customer service call from hell that a Comcast customer recently endured. While Comcast apologized, I think most of us can sympathize, empathize and/or identify with the situation. At one time or another we have encountered a company agent who was anything but helpful.

Coincidentally, I was having my own issues with Comcast at the same time the story above hit the national news.

The short story: Comcast promised to complete a repair order and bury a new cable at our residence on July 14.  After several phone calls (lots of holds) and social media posts (my Facebook feed and the Comcast site), I eventually got connected with a corporate email address…which finally got the job finished on July 20. Five days late.

Image: stockimages/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image: stockimages/

The teacher inside me has to pass along some suggestions/questions/lessons:

  • Stop over-promising. State what you can do and when you can do it.
  • Ditch the script. Please hire people who you can trust to speak without a script.  Someone who can think critically, speak clearly, and have a real conversation.
  • Stop telling every customer, “I understand.”  The third time I heard that I was over it. Especially when nothing has been resolved for days.
  • If customers call concerning a shortcoming in your service, why are your company agents hawking other products and services? If you cannot deliver on your current service, there is no reason I want to sign up for more (potentially) bad service.
  • When you make an appointment, make an appointment!  I was told by one of the many Comcast agents I spoke with that although I had an appointment for July 14, it didn’t really mean July 14.  Comcast, the agent told me, considers it has 7-10 days to deliver on that appointment.  Say what?  Tell that to your boss, your clients or creditors: “Sure, I’ll mark down July 14 for you.  But that means I might not complete my obligation until July 24.”  Huh?

    Video recommendation for the week:

    This video pretty much sums it up.

  • One customer service agent boldly told me “I guarantee it will be taken care of today.”  When I repeated his “guarantee” he said, “Definitely!”  It took another three days. Don’t guarantee what you cannot deliver.
  • Please define “escalation.”  I was told by a number of agents that my ticket was going to be “escalated.”  Three days into the ordeal, a supervisor told me she would “re-escalate” the ticket.  Glad she “re-escalated” as it only took another 3 days for service delivery!
  • Get more supervisors who can make decisions and tell a customer exactly what is what.
  • If you can’t handle the volume of calls, then either reduce your business or get more (and better) agents.
  • If you tell a paying customer (really, anyone) that “someone will call you later today” please make sure the call is made.
  • I found out (from a post to my Facebook feed) that there is a special “Make it Right” phone number to Comcast (that requires a special ID#).  Why isn’t the first call to Comcast the “Make it Right” phone call?

I realize operating the behemoth muscle-bound company you have created has to be difficult; and that service is slow at times; and that you cannot always deliver as you promise.

I understand.

Not really.

Check out my website (http://www.stevepiscitelli.com/programs.html) for programming information as well as details about upcoming webinars  (http://www.stevepiscitelli.com/webinars).

Information on my newest book, Choices for College Success (3rd ed.), can be found at Pearson Education.

(c) 2014. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.


About stevepiscitelli

This entry was posted in Integrity, quality, service and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to (#218) Stop Saying “I Understand!”

  1. Mimi Folk says:

    Go Steve GO! Been there and it is ugly.
    Ditto when a student makes a commitment and then doesn’t deliver. Think the Comcast issue is a relevant cautionary tale (and they’ll get that one!)


  2. …and ATT is no better. I have been dealing with them since July 3. Latest problem: We still have no phone service and Internet service at home. Tech just came; but he is not the “right” one to fix the problem. It is systemic with many big corporations/entities. So…I continue to hold them accountable–and demand
    the service for which I am paying. May be a reprise blog based on what happens with ATT today. Hope you are well!


  3. Outstanding, Steve!


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