In 2008, Frank Eliason jumped into online conversations about Comcast and became one of the first social customer service professionals out there. Other than Lionel Menchaca at Dell and a handful of other dotted similar stories, there was no path to follow. Frank had to blaze a trail. And blaze he did.
Launching the @comcastcares Twitter handle and diving into responses to people who were everything from annoyed to belligerent, Frank and his meager team began to turn Comcast’s reputation around. No, they couldn’t solve great issues for the company like asshole technicians, system outages and slow Internet speeds. But they could listen. They could respond. They could engage.
Frank’s efforts at Comcast went a long way to humanize the brand. It brought a big, sterile, corporate thing and made it seem like a group of people who were hard at it trying to do good for their customers. Though Frank has moved on to other opportunities — first Citi, then writing a book, now at Zeno Group — his fingerprints and legacy remain at Comcast.
How do I know? Look at this:
This is a conversational analysis of Comcast and the people mentioned in online conversations when the brand comes up. With cable operators — Multiple-System Operators (MSOs) to be industry specific as they tend to run multiple local cable outfits and offer TV, Internet and Phone as packages — you’d expect to see names like Hillary Clinton, a sports star (Connor Cook), maybe an actor or character from a popular show (Sheldon) and so on. Look at the names around the positive sentiment (green) side of the wheel.
Joe, Ray, Ken, Sean, Chad and Jim are all individual customer service representatives that work on the @ComcastCares team. Hillary (Clinton) comes in fifth?!
I found this because I’m currently working on a new Conversation Report for Elasticity on MSOs. (Email me if you want to know more when it comes out.) I can tell you that this type of read out does not exist among the top five MSOs in the United States. Just Comcast.
No, this team doesn’t solve the bigger issues facing Comcast. No, the company doesn’t have a 100% positive sentiment among online conversations about it online. But holy smokes, is that an impressive representation of what one team can do for a huge brand that has crisis after crisis every day all over the country?
Frank would give credit to the current management and teams at Comcast, but he pioneered what humanizing a big brand looks like. And this, ladies and gentlemen, is the fruit of his labor.
So, what are you doing to humanize your brand? Tell us your story in the comments!
Pioneering social media panda bear Tagawa “Peter” Panda was born on a Chinese game reserve in 1969. He emigrated to the United States in 1987 speaking no English, with only the fur on his back and $97 stored in a Jansport fanny-pack wrapped around his waist.
In 2003 while searching for food on the campus of Washington University, he discovered a computer lab where he would ultimately teach himself web development, graphic design, and immerse himself into the growing digital media evolution that was erupting at the time.
With his trademark surly demeanor developed during beatings on his boat ride from China to the U.S., as well as having a penchant for eating vast quantities of bamboo, and enjoying Scotch and cigars, Peter is broadly recognized for coining the phrase “social media” in 2004. He joined Elasticity in late 2009 as the agency’s director of social media strategy and wildlife relations. Friend him on Facebook here.