I have a simple relationship with Xfinity.
I hope I can trust him – as much as any big tech conglomerate can be trusted – and I try not to communicate with him except in an emergency.
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In return, Xifinity sends me an email thanking me for paying on time.
Over the years, it has largely worked, except for occasional vast misfires.
I can understand, however, that not everyone has benefited from such a lasting relationship. I can understand, indeed, that they want to write Xfinity out of their lives.
Here, for example, was aviation journalist Seth Miller. He had clearly had enough. He explain this to Xfinity’s AI assistant in very simple terms: “Cancel my Xfinity services”.
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Xifinity, the entertainer formerly known as Comcast, has a bit of a reputation for not taking no for an answer. Who can forget that the worst retention specialist in the world harangues a client who wanted to leave?
So, in response to Miller, assistant Xfinity wrote, “We value your business and appreciate your loyalty.” Yeah, it was like he didn’t quite understand that Miller’s loyalty was kaput.
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But the assistant bravely continued: “While we know clients are leaving us, we would like to review your options together and see if there is anything we can do to keep you as a client. I can put you on. connect with someone who can help you, no matter what you decide.”
Would you be strongly tempted? I admit I’m somewhat tempted to try canceling now, just to talk to someone who could help, for example, with my very large Xfinity bill.
Helpfully, the assistant offered Miller four options: “Schedule a callback,” “chat with an agent,” “visit the store,” and, finally, “shout out loud right now.”
Actually, I was wrong about the last one. It was “Learn About Free Internet (ACP)”.
With seemingly blessed decency, Miller chose to “talk to an agent.”
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So this was the time when Xfinity could show its prowess in changing customer sentiment, using the twin pliers of technology and humanity.
You can imagine Xfinity’s assistant responded with uncontrolled glee.
You can also imagine riding a bike made of grenades.
The Xfinity assistant, you see, replied, “I’m sorry, we’re experiencing longer wait times than usual. There are no chat agents available at the moment, but you can call 1-800-XFINITY or try chatting again later. Here are some helpful information and common solutions for digital assistance.
There was still this word “useful”, used in its often contemporary sense: “Yeah, it’s not really useful, is it?”
Miller helpfully explained his own feelings on Twitter: “Listen, @XfinitySupport, I’m going to cancel service no matter how hard you try to make this impossible. And then your phone line pushes me to try chat, which I already know it won’t work All you do is waste my time Do you think this will change my mind??
If you’re going to use technology and humanity in a fluid dance, it’s worth making sure it actually works. Otherwise, customers will get angry and tell others how upset they are, which is really bad for business.
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Here, however, there was even greater torture.
said Miller, in a later tweet“Ironically, there was no wait on the phone, despite the IVR trying to force me into a chat. And the rep was happy to handle the request. But the process sucks.”
The customer service process always needs work, investment, not a little love.
Research repeatedly shows that cheerful chatbots may not be quite the solution companies think they are.
Here, for example, is a study from Georgia Tech: “Happy chatbots don’t necessarily improve customer service.” And here is a survey in which 53% of people described chatbots as “boring”.
But they are so profitable, aren’t they?