I read a newspaper article this morning about long wait times at government offices. As someone who spent over 30 years representing government and as someone who writes articles about government, association and nonprofit social media and PR, customer service is always an interesting topic.
We are frequently paired off against the private sector; government equals bad service, the private sector does everything right. Government consistently screws it up.
Enter Comcast, the national provider of internet, telephone and television service. When Comcast first started providing services, they were horrible. They had a government-sanctioned monopoly and they were often the only game in town. Didn’t like their service? Tough. You had no other options.
But over the years increasing competition came from satellite providers and Verizon. More people were ditching cable television for over-the-air programming (beautiful digital reception) and adding a device to stream television and movies over the Internet.
Result? Comcast became customer friendly. They had to.
In recent years service from Comcast has been quite good. But our internet service died last week and this was the result:
First call, friendly person had me inspect all wiring and hookups for 20 minutes and told he to hold for 5 minutes while he checked the system. We were disconnected. He never called back; the phone number was attached to the account.
Called back. No one answered. Disconnected
Called back. Same result.
Called back. Was told that my router was the problem and I was offered the number of the company that made the router; Comcast was not responsible. They said that I would have to pay a considerable amount of money to have a service technician come to the house. I asked for a supervisor. I was told that there were none available.
Called back to dump Comcast and go with Verizon. No one ever answered my call.
Returned to more calls after waiting for several hours to keep me from doing or saying anything stupid to anyone I came into contact with. Got a very nice customer service technician who had me unplug the router to reset the signal and called me back in three minutes to tell me that service was restored.
My Internet service now works fine. Had I reached the final person first, I would be singing the praises of Comcast. Now I’m considering dumping them for good.
So when I engage anyone in debate regarding the proper roles of government versus the private sector, my recent encounter with Comcast will take center stage. Yep, I can also offer examples of horrendous /incompetent government service (State of Maryland Department of Motor Vehicles comes to mind) but it seems that the issue is quality control, not government versus the private sector.