Friday, December 06, 2013
The CEO of Comcast, the cable-content giant, thinks complaints about the company are a matter of scale. With more than a billion consumer transactions a year, a hundredth of a percent of customer fails is still too much. He is right, and his view is instructive to PR practitioners. On the internet, a tiny minority can still project a loud presence and that presence radiating through blogs, forums, consumer complaint sites, Tweets and e-mail can portray affairs as immeasurably worse than they are. Even more challenging for Comcast is that it provides an essential service. Hence, consumers have no patience when it is disrupted for any length of time. That used to be the challenge facing phone companies, and it was the reason why the AT&T of old put so much emphasis on getting lines back up after storms and disasters. Cable companies have discovered the hard way that they are in the same position, but it is worse now because complaints are no longer localized. They are broadcast to the world, which is only too ready to believe a complaint is symptomatic of an entire company. Cable companies should be practicing six sigma (99.9999998 percent reliability) if they are not doing so already.