Two Sides of Customer Service

How far should a company go to keep its customers? It actually doesn’t take very much.


Take Comcast for instance. all they have to do is listen and nip problems before they become big. Comcast’s presence on Twitter is already well-known, but I became the latest to benefit from their forward-thinking customer service. A casual mention on Twitter of wonky Internet service at home got an immediate response from “ComcastBill” and 2 days later (including a holiday) all was fixed.

Now, I have always had good luck simply calling Comcast directly, and their responsiveness has dampened any FIOS lust I may periodically develop, but this extra step, even with my knowledge of the Twitter service, still took me aback, in a very good way.

On the other side of the coin, an airline I won’t name (let’s just say it’s one of the American airlines) has a lot less to be proud of. since I’m not naming the airline, instead of a logo I’ll just put up a photo of my cat:


While the Case of the 90,000 Disappearing Frequent Flyer Miles might even be dismissed by Encyclopedia Brown as a case of customer negligence, a person who saves up miles with constantly pushing expiration dates (and previous attempts to use them stymied by insufficient airline routes) will never be pleased to find them suddenly vanished. Even less so when this is discovered on the day he is trying to book a family vacation. In this case, it is not the problem, which is common but frustrating, but the treatment by customer “service” that gets low marks.

When I tell them they have lost a customer for life: “Well sir, you obviously had been flying someone else already if you hadn’t used your miles yet.” Yes, that is Delta lipstick on my collar, and the sweet perfume of JetBlue lingering.. well never you mind. Curses! Another reason to treat me like shoe ick.

What would it have taken to keep me? They offered some solutions, but all required me spending hundreds of dollars. No thanks. I’m not asking for special treatment — ok, maybe I am, but I think everyone should get the treatment. I can be pretty loyal to companies that do a little extra for me. Just ask Comcast.


  1. It’s seems that more and more companies are ~finally~ cluing in to the fact that customer service is KEY… except the airlines (of course). ;)

    Just last week, I steeled myself towards the impending hell I thought I’d have to endure while calling Verizon and Bank of America, only to be pleasantly surprised, nay, shocked at the outstanding service I received! (NOTE: I have been on the phone w/these companies enough times to recognize that they both have enacted some serious changes to their CS models so I don’t think I just got lucky w/my CSR)

    That’s one of the things I noticed to when joining the team here at NAPP. I have worked with many CS departments in the past and NAPP/Kelby Media’s old-fashioned approach to outstanding customer service was such a breath of fresh air! It’s great to see that other companies are coming back around.

  2. Doug – The frequent flyer programs are constructed to make it challenging to redeem miles for anything with any real value to the “customer.” Sure, it’s easy to get magazine subscriptions, but the pain you go through to redeem those hard-earned miles is… well, just know I have scars.

    What I’m wondering about here is whether this is a perfect example of the difference between a company that’s listening and a company that’s not? And if yes, do you think the American airline would treat you better if they knew the audience you had in social media?

    Great example.

    Jim | @jstorerj

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