08th August 2014

The dark side of service design, and other things we learned this week

By now most of us have probably heard that infamous Comcast call by tech reporter Ryan Block. Last month Block called the media provider to cancel his subscription - it didn't go well, in fact it went viral. Soon after the recording was released Comcast pointed the finger at the customer service rep, they then later issued a mea culpa and promised to do better.

But this wasn't a once-off incident – Comcast's customer support department is designed to operate this way. According to The Verge, which interviewed several current and former Comcast employees, the company sees each customer contact as a sales opportunity. While this isn't entirely unusual (most of us have been up-sold to), what's is unusual is Comcast's confusion of sales and customer service.

So, is this service broken by design?

Companies like Comcast could clearly benefit from some industrial strength service design; the question is, do they really want to improve? Is a poor reputation a price some companies are willing to pay for increased customer retention? And if so, what does this mean for service designers?

Also this week, Google is creating a typeface that can support all of the world's languages; MIT researchers can now lift audio from silent video - which could revolutionise how we spy on others, and how we treat medical conditions; and a cyber security expert managed to hack into an airplane, but he hasn't told us how yet.

  • #eCommerce
  • Can London become the Wall Street for crypto-currencies?
  • The UK's Finance Minister wants London to lead the world in mobile payments and crypto-currencies
  • Read More »
  • #User Journeys
  • How Comcast screwed up its customer service
  • By focusing too much on sales during every customer touchpoint, Comcast is degrading its customer service (via Geoffrey)
  • Watch »
  • #Experience Design
  • "It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents"
  • The Science Gallery will become a storm bunker next Friday, as hackers and musicians DIY their way through a virtual stormy night
  • Book your Free Tickets  »
  • #Internet of Things
  • Hackers, please return your laptops to an up-right position
  • See, here's why we shouldn't necessarily connect everything to everything else. One cyber security expert hacked a commercial airplane as a proof of concept. 
  • Read More »
  • #Digital Transformation
  • Be kind, rewind
  • Doghouse Diaries comic explains the "good" old days of Internet-free video rental Read More »

Illustration: Patrick Cusack