For years, Comcast has been giving its employees special cards to hand out to customers who had "a negative or unpleasant experience that is unresolved."
Once called "Make It Right" cards and recently rebranded as "We're On It" cards, the cards are printed with a unique ID number and a "no wait" hotline that connects to a dedicated team of 250 customer service agents. Employees receive 12 cards a year, which they can hand out at their discretion.
The cards are also printed with a QR code that directs customers to self-service options.
Comcast handles more than a million customer interactions a day, according to the company, which means a lot of angry customers if even a tiny fraction of them go wrong. "Despite our best efforts, sometimes we don't get it exactly right," Tom Karinshak, senior vice president of customer experience, wrote in a note to employees. "The card directs customers to our dedicated team who can help resolve the issue — often in less than 24 hours."
"We’re On It" gives employees the power to assist customers they meet outside of work with a hotline to the "We’re On It" team and direct access to our online self-help tools.
This is a tool you can use to quickly and easily help when a customer approaches you outside of work to resolve a repair or billing issue. The cards are designed to help you avoid difficult and time consuming situations and provide you with a convenient and time saving resource that assists both you and the customer.
While the cards will unlock access to a dedicated team, those agents do not have any more power than regular customer service agents, Comcast says.
The cards are just one of many venues where customers can get help, says D’Arcy Rudnay, Comcast's chief communications officer. "It's not an escalation, it's an option."
Similarly, Comcast has a dedicated "digital care" team of 13 dedicated customer service agents who answer customers on Twitter, Facebook, and through the We_Can_Help@cable.comcast.com email address. Comcast plans to add more agents to that team, she says.
Meanwhile, the email@example.com email address and calls that go through the office of the president, which have been described on online forums as ways to jump the customer service queue, are routed to customer service agents normally.
"It's the same thing, just a different version," she says. "Every single one of these programs is our attempt to fix customers' problems, and we're serious about it."
One customer service rep who worked for Comcast from 2005 to 2014 at a Tennessee call center says the "Make It Right" cards didn't necessarily lead to faster resolution, however. A search of the Comcast support forums shows this is true at least some of the time. "They're simply a palliative to pacify the public," she says. "It's the same level of customer service, only it has a colorful card which they can hold in their hands to make it seem special."
Comcast, like most of the cable industry, has historically struggled with a reputation for lousy customer service. This year, the American Consumer Satisfaction Index ranked Comcast's internet service division second-to-last out of more than 230 companies across industries. Its television service didn't fare much better, and its phone service started to approach an average score. The only company that did worse than Comcast? Time Warner Cable, which Comcast is in talks to acquire.
Rudnay says Comcast is honestly trying to improve, citing a forthcoming feature in the company's mobile app that will allow customers to take photos and video as they communicate with customer service agents. "Over and over again this year, the president of our company has said improving the customer experience is one of our number one priorities," she says.
She also cited CEO Brian Roberts' response to a question from Verge editor-in-chief Nilay Patel at a conference in May: "We don't wake up every day, and go to work and say, 'We want to be hated.'"
Disclosure: Comcast Ventures is an investor in Vox Media, The Verge's parent company.