I found it interesting that Comcast is publicly saying that they are “embarrassed” by the behavior of one of their custom support reps.
I mean, yeah, what else were they going to say?
But it does teach us something important about front line service employees. When Ryan Block and his wife dialed the toll free number in order to cancel their account, they weren’t calling the individual who answered the phone. They were calling Comcast, and to them, the person on the other end of the phone was Comcast. In looking at the various commentaries about the story, and the comments left by readers, you see the same assumption, this is Comcast acting this way. This is the way Comcast teaches it’s employees to act, this is official policy, and so on.
Now I have no idea if it is official policy at Comcast or not. I’ve never been a Comcast customer, (Although I will be when I get to Oregon, so much for having any choice!) but from what I’ve read and heard, it would really not be surprising if it was the policy. On the other hand, that doesn’t matter. In this instance, the customer service rep is acting as Comcast, so it is Comcast doing this.
I think we tend to forget this, and it doesn’t just apply to customer service jobs. As the guys at Manager Tools are fond of saying about bosses and their directs, to them, you are the company. When you share information, and maybe more importantly when you choose not to share information, to your directs it is the company doing that, not one individual. If you choose to not tell them something, it is the company deciding not to tell them something.
Stop and think about that. No really, stop and think about it.
That day some important news was coming down the pipeline from senior management but you put off sharing that information with your team because you wanted to get home early? They found out about it from somewhere else, and probably assumed that they were being left out of the announcement on purpose. That time you made a flippant remark about budgets being tightened = company is in trouble. You are the company. You are the source of information about the company to your directs.
Now think about the comments you make when you’re customer or partner facing? Yeah, you are the company to these folks, and if you run a company, those folks are the company to your customers. Look around at the people who work for you, how does that make you feel? If those aren’t the people you want representing your company, or if you’re not sure how well they are representing the company, you should probably spend some time doing something about that.