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September 28, 2007

Comcast Inside-Out

So the Comcast Jihad continues and it appears to even be picking up a bit of momentum as we're seeing employees begin to speak out about the company's deplorable behavior. The rants are escalating and perhaps there's even a chance Comcast will be forced to respond. With employees starting to speak out they're entering into a new world of hurt.  But they can choose to respond differently. Here's what I think their options are;

Scared Friend: Do what they've been doing, ignore it and hope it will go away. Probably the most annoying type of friend in the long term because nobody knows what they actually believe and instead of confronting the issue it'll simply fester.

Bad Friend: They could, and I suspect this is what they might do, just be a bad friend that decides to plead not-guilty. Working with a big-old PR firm (who is probably still telling them that any PR is good PR), they'll construct a meaningless public response with poor explanations and empty promises to "look into" and "find solutions" for these problems.

Bad Friend making an Effort:Maybe, just maybe, Comcast will decide to man up and stick their toe in the shallow end. Perhaps they'll show some transparency and acknowledge what they've done wrong while subsequently make an effort to spend time with people and taking some baby steps in the right direction.

If Comcast decides to dip a toe in, they need to start from the inside out.  Friendship isn't a shallow external thing and to create (and recreate) relationships with people they're going to have to start from the center.  To start building friendships they can't just craft new communications, they have to truly look within.

Comcastcircles_3

First and foremost it starts with believing in something. Before Comcast can begin to truly befriend people, they have to figure out who they are and what they wish to offer. Brandon wrote a post a few days ago about belief driven decision making in which he discusses how important it is for a companies to put a stake in the ground. I'm not sure what Comcast believes and I'm not sure they know what they believe. Do they believe in entertainment or is it communication or maybe even community? Ultimately, until they can throw a stake in the ground they'll never be able to move concentrically outward, developing each other element of the friendship.


Employees
are the next step.  Once you've got a belief, you have to get employees believing.  This post is so traumatic not because of what it reveals (I don't think any of us expected there was a grave amount of information sharing and we all suspected they were handling business in these sort of fashions) but because there are now dozens of employees adding their two cents. Employees should be ambassadors and need to embody company beliefs because they're the humans actually building the friendship.


Product
is a vital piece of the friendship. It's the day-to-day interaction and something Comcast doesn't seem too interested in.  If, lets say, Comcast were to believe in giving people control they might want to spend a little effort on a better DVR. If you search Comcast over the past few months, some of the most positive commentary surrounding them is the rumored relationship with TiVo. It appears that has fallen apart. They need to pull things like that back together, develop a more user-friendly remote, easier installation processes, easier recording, better functionality.  Friends have to continually deliver and evolve, not establish and stagnate.

Experience goes hand in hand with the employees and product. As a friend, Comcast needs to find a more connected experience. This employee indicates that divisions of the company that would seemingly be operating hand in hand can't connect over anything but e-mail. Can you imagine a group of friends who used different mediums to connect with each other...lets go grab a drink, but I'm going to be on the phone with my buddy Jim who's going to conference in with Sally through e-mail. It doesn't make sense.  Conversations should be fluid, employees should be friends and make people feel like they're part of the loop.

Lastly we come to Communications & Advertising. I commend Goodby on the work they've done by creating compelling creative without any sort of belief system coming from their client. The communications works really well to create a more attractive brand, but unfortunately doesn't extend beyond that.  There's little consistency between the creative and the experience, it is a disconnect and more importantly none of the inner-circles reinforce it.  The employees clearly aren't "Comcastic" neither is the experience or the service.

Comcastic is a great creative concept, but Comcast still needs to figure out what being Comcastic means. What is a "Comcastic" friend?  What is a "Comcastic" employee?

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