Here Is Comcast’s Insanely Detailed Manual for Persuading Customers Not to Cancel

A blog about business and economics.
Aug. 5 2014 3:17 PM

Leaked: Comcast’s Insanely Detailed Manual for Persuading Customers Not to Cancel Their Service

callcenter
“Explain to me one more time why you don't want to benefit from Comcast's amazing services.”

Photo by wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock

If you popped onto the Internet last month, there was a good chance you listened to that awful recording of a Comcast rep trying to stop a customer from canceling his service. The employee in question was one of the company’s so-called retention specialists, who are essentially paid based on the number of subscribers whom they convince not to ditch their subscriptions. Obviously, the system risks incentivizing some extreme behavior. Now, The Verge has obtained a leaked manual that describes, in minute detail, the 13-step process that retention team members use to keep us from cutting Comcast's cords. It includes sentence-by-sentence instructions on the proper way to greet the customer, "set the agenda," "take control of the conversation," "overcome objections," and "close the save." (The whole thing, at the bottom of this post, is best read in Alec Baldwin's Glengarry Glen Ross voice.)

To give you some flavor, here's a sample section of the document, which seems to be a grading rubric for managers rating their employees' performance.

comcast_instructions_one
comcast_instructions_two
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Retention specialists are repeatedly expected to ask “targeted, probing questions” to figure out exactly why a customer is looking to cancel, and if there might be a way to save their business. That probably explains a good deal of the horrible call that went viral. Meanwhile, it’s evident that the company knows subscribers are trying to dodge these exhausting conversations. When customers say they are moving, specialists are instructed to make sure it’s not a “smokescreen for switching to a competitor.”

Finally, The Verge notes the part that most of us really care about. Comcast says “save attempts are not applicable” if a customer is:

  • Moving in with another Comcast subscriber
  • Moving to a non-Comcast area, which they’ll verify by looking up the zip code
  • Deceased (and no survivors are left over who need TV or Internet)
  • Disconnecting temporarily
  • A victim of a natural disaster.

So there you go. If you want to escape Comcast, tell them you’re moving out of the country. If they don't believe you, you can always fake your death.

Jordan Weissmann is Slate's senior business and economics correspondent.

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