Misguided analyst editorial – update: Called it

Wow.   Rob Enderle has a lot of readers on Computerworld I expect.   I read the odd article from him.   I had thought he would be offering solid business advice in light of the viral “Comcastic” support call from hell [ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/14/the-comcast-call-from-hell_n_5586476.html ] I stand corrected.

Basically, Enderle shows to be a run-of-the-mill, CYA sycophant extraordinaire advocating analytics to essentially make two classes of customer, rather than use it to help monitor and improve your customer relationships as a whole.    His original article I’m ranting about is here: Don’t Be Comcast: Use Analytics, Monitoring to Prevent a Viral Disaster – Computerworld

He starts somewhat sanely, in having a list of the biggest customers available to managers, so that, as he did, you don’t cancel a supply contract you have from someone who happens to be your largest customer.  I get the impression that it wasn’t a healthy business relationship, and may have been grounded more in back-room “you scratch my back I’ll scratch yours” deals than good business if a cancellation resulted in that sort of fallout.   Either that or the company Enderle was working for ALSO wasn’t competitive, and let’s just say what goes around comes around in that case.

But when he then takes social media, and proposes to use it to monitor when you might have a PR issue on your hands, or track negative and positive PR, that’s just good sense.   But that’s not what he proposes.   He takes the idea of the “influencers”, people who have larger pull in social media and PR, being often celebrities or journalists, and having your real-time analytics alert you when they are contacting the company in support to give them extra-special treatment.   Basically, make them an “elite”customer, and screw the rest of us.  

You know what social media does then?   Check the hashtag count on twitter.   You’ll still get #comcastic from all the rest of your customers relating serious issues and problems, and you’ll have a few media celebrities having positive PR.  And it will catch up with you, and if your customer service sucks, I’ll trust my second-cousin’s-friend’s opinion of your shop far more than some privileged A-list celeb on where I take my business. 

Enderle is a “mover-shaker-fool” that is looking for quick results and his own rep in a corp rather than actually making your business the leader in the category.   Fix the problem.  Treat your customers correctly and install that in your employees.  And don’t incentivize them disproportionately against that.   I’ll bet good money that  the call rep at Comcast is paid good coin on a “save” of a leaving customer, so he will work his rear end off to the point shown in that recording to make that save.   It’s worth it as I expect his performance and his compensation is so skewed to making the save that it’s not worth his time to be courteous and walk people through it professionally.   Enderle says the rep should be fired.   If I were the CEO I would start with looking at how the incentive programs for the call centre are set up, especially in the “customer retention” area.   And adjust the attitudes of the people setting that up.   

And you know the irony?   I bet the whole behaviour of grinding so hard to keep a customer (and up in Canada Shaw and Telus do it just as much, but I didn’t run into quite the level of zealousness that was in the viral posting) is based on analytics.  Enderle hasn’t yet learned the lesson that people who actually THINK about analytics and their application has, which is you still need to have a goal in mind when you apply them.   Comcast has a goal when it hits customer retention, as do all these telecom/internet providers.  Keep the customer at all costs because customer acquisition is very expensive.  The numbers say it’s a lost cause so go all out.   Any win is a great bonus.  Social media is re-empowering the consumer and making the businesses play honest with everyone.   Enderle doesn’t get it.   Make sure you make a better decision than he advocates.


UPDATE:  Looks like I called that better than the paid analyst did.   http://venturebeat.com/2014/07/22/comcasts-retention-policies-take-the-blame-for-that-customer-service-call-from-hell/ pretty much outlines what I figured was the core of the issue.   Perhaps new metrics NOT from the accounting department need to be added in?

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