We’ve all heard the Comcast horror stories and too many of us – especially Netflix customers – have lived the nightmare while listening to the company blather on about net neutrality. The company is now looking to acquire Time Warner Cable, a move of unparalleled proportions that could give the new super company a monopolistic competitive advantage in two key areas : internet connectivity and terrible customer service.
Have Comcast execs been intently listening and carefully plotting a solution to improve customer service and customer satisfaction in the form of retail stores? If the September 11th trademark filing for “Studio Xfinity” is any indication, it seems possible. Here’s how Comcast describes their new trademark:
Retail store services featuring telecommunications goods and services; retail store services featuring entertainment services, namely, providing television programs, films, movies and other audio-video content via cable, fiber optics, the Internet, mobile networks and other electronic communications networks; retail store services featuring goods and services for home and business automation, control, monitoring, and security; retail store services featuring the demonstration of said goods and services
Careful attention should be paid to the full term repeatedly used by Comcast: retail store services. Rather than building a nation-wide network of retail stores for a company that sells no physical products, Studio Xfinity would more likely incorporate a number of popup stores found in retail partners such as Best Buy to either feature a holiday push (a la Samsung) or facilitate better, permanent customer service solutions (think Comcast Geek Squad).
That raises another interesting question, though: what if Comcast did have physical products to sell to customers? Comcast would be in a unique position to leverage their existing customer relationships in an emerging market that has yet to fully take shape: the connected home.
If you’re currently a Comcast customer, I know what you’re probably thinking: the last thing you want is a connected home powered by Comcast. Your garage stops functioning, refrigerator starts spouting out water, TV is stuck on QVC channel, and after 4 hours of sitting on hold with Comcast customer service, they schedule you an appointment for next week between the convenient hours of 6AM and 10PM.
But the idea of physical Comcast retail locations, especially as store-within-stores in already popular shopping locations and outlets, could be great for customers if approached modestly and not only as a cash grab for selling new products and services. Current Comcast office locations are nothing short of horrendous, and to be honest, the opportunity to browse new technology while waiting in line would be a welcome addition.
Unless Comcast has some huge unforeseen announcement waiting in the wings, we’re going to predict they don’t jump head first into the retail space. But this holiday season could prove to be a fruitful test with a small sample size of featured “Studio Xfinity” store-within-stores concept.
As we’ve discussed regarding Google in years past, retail stores are risky but tempting. Struggling companies like Radio Shack and Office Depot are facing increasing competitive pressure from online juggernauts like Amazon. On the flip side, prominent brands with loyal customers and premium brands (read: Apple) continue to make a killing. Where on the retail store spectrum would Comcast belong, what could they offer customers to make the experience worthwhile, and would they ultimately be successful/profitable?
This editorial is speculative, based on Comcast’s trademark filing for “Studio Xfinity”
I vote no because they’ll charge like $49/month for a convenience of being in the area.
All they are going to do is rename their locations where customers currently go to pay their bill or return hardware which are most of the time defactive to begin with thanks to their firmware being f*ed up by Comcast trying to send a ‘signal’.
These little stores will have 3 nice looking, and pleasant individuals over in the “New customer signups” ready to help you start your Comcast journey.
Then they will have one crusty looking person that actually managed to get fired from the USPS for having too sour of an attitude working the returns/product help counter.
I am skeptical that the USPS has any upper limit on how sour and how bad of an attitude its customer service people can be.
I would be more apt to believe that they require a minimum level of bad attitude in order to qualify to work at USPS.
Not sure how good an idea this is seeing that the Comcast location I took my boxes back to had the employees sitting behind what looks to be 3 inches of bullet proof glass. This location sits sorounded by some of the nicest neighborhoods in my area. I’m going to guess the turnover of employees at these “studio’s” will be ridiculous.
They could buy t-mobile. WTH, I’m rural.no broadband, no landline, and I had to pay thousands of dollars to get electricity run to the big house.
Just rural. Don’t know where the url came from…
If you decide to cancel, will Comcast keep you on the phone for hours and hours? Will they put you on hold and then go home because their shift is over?
Will they try to upsell you when you are trying to cancel your account?
Will it have the Comcast quality and reliability that you have come to expect from Comcast?