Griping Online? Comcast Hears and Talks Back

Brandon Dilbeck, 20, a student at the University of Washington, was complaining recently on his blog, Brandon Notices, about Comcast’s practice of posting ads in its on-screen programming guide. Shortly afterward, he received an e-mail message from Comcast, thanking him for the feedback and adding that it was working on a new interactive guide that might “illuminate the issues that you are currently experiencing.” Mr. Dilbeck found it all a bit creepy. >>Full Story

Thoughts// Every blog your write, we’re watching you’. Perhaps the Police should re-release this song for the blogging era.

This interesting article in the NY Times focuses on the challenges and opportunities facing brands as they reach out to consumers over social media with a special spotlight on Frank Eliason, Comcast’s “digital care manager”. Eliason monitors public comments on blogs, message boards and social networks for mentions of Comcast and its services and is empowered to solve customers’ problems. In the case of Comcast, while the overwhelming response appears to be positive, some consumers have found the practice “creepy” and have labeled it yet another ‘Big Brother’ tactic. (Ok, the Times quoted one!)

So should you not engage in social media? Hardly. We believe in respectful, meaningful and empathetic conversations with consumers.

As we’ve stated many times in this blog, engaging in a two-way conversation with your customers can be a vital prong in your digital marketing strategy. Consumers are blogging and raving (or ranting) about your products and your destination online with or without you. Not listening or engaging in dialogue is a critical opportunity missed not only to build deeper relationships but also for brand cache. Technology has now afforded us an unprecedented “direct connection” to consumers and according to Brian Solis, a new media PR agent quoted in the article, “if you don’t respond, someone else will, most likely in the form of competition seizing the opportunity to convert your dispirited customers into new prospects.”

So what can Comcast tell us about lessons learned? According to Eliason:

“We learn a great deal from our customers through this channel and we learn better ways to present information, and what the pinch points are in the relationship.”

“…customers that had complaints but never reached out to us to correct them. It is so much better to see them have the service we intend.

“…companies should be where their customers are. Social media is just another channel, similar to the phone, chat or email.”

“It makes it much more personal and it provides the opportunity to provide clarification when necessary….we do not do this from a PR perspective…My team concentrates on the customer experience.”

Comment? @travel2dot0 or email.