Everybody has had bad experiences with call centers... it is actually quite an entertaining lunch topic with friends, colleagues and clients.
But this Comcast example deserves the gold medal for the worst customer empathy example...
In July 2014, Comcast, the largest cable company and home internet provider in the US, was caught up in turmoil and had to publicly apologize after a frustrated customer recorded a nightmare call with a customer representative who did not allow him to cancel the service and shared it on twitter. The audio record posted on SoundCloud received more than 5 million views with key media picking up on the incident. And to make it even worse, it encouraged other customers to record their own bad experiences.
Interestingly, in their apology message, Comcast put all the responsibility on the particular employee for doing a terrible job not in line with what they were trained to do... I don't doubt the fact that the employee had a particular lack of customer empathy but it could also be worth looking at the systems behind: was he "forced" to fill in a reason for stopping with the service, did his salary depend on the number of customers he could retain?
And more fundamentally…
You are bound to have an irritated customer on the line in the above situation - he probably was not satisfied with the service, had to spend time searching on the website to find out how he could cancel only to discover it had to be done via the phone so that by the time he called he was upset with the company...
Wouldn't it be a better decision to make it as easy for a customer to cancel or change their subscription as to subscribe so that they just don't need to go through a customer call center to cancel a subscription? What do you gain by forcing people to keep something they don't want to keep? What would be the positive sales impact of offering a plan that can be cancelled easily vs. the actual negative impact on attrition rate? Would definitely be worth making a business case!
How customer empathic are YOUR customer reps at the call center?
Do your procedures and reward systems support a customer empathic service?
What would you gain by making it as easy for customers to join as to leave or change their mind?