I’m starting to like Xfinity. Why? Its AI bot just fixed my TV – and that’s not all

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I never thought this would happen, but Xfinity is wheedling its way into my affections.

Or, at least, out of my disaffections.

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Sometimes the Comcast company has truly tested my patience — and not just mine. Whether it’s customers who want to cancel or customers who just want their service to work, Xfinity has, in the past, managed to find original ways to mess up. 

So much so that it was voted — more than once — America’s most hated company.

A different picture?

Yet just a couple of weeks ago I was watching TV and suddenly the picture came over all pixelated.

There seemed no reason, so I opened the Xfinity app on my phone and instantly felt a dread as I was passed to its AI bot.

Many AI bots are imperfect. Perhaps everyone has encountered more than one. Perhaps everyone has shouted at more than one.

This bot, however, began by asking clear questions, offering defined options, and reacting with considerable speed.

It asked me to check cables. It asked me to unplug and plug in again. At one point, it seemed to sense I was doubting my belief in its advice, so it offered that it was doing exactly the same thing as a human customer adviser would.

Also: 20 things to consider before rolling out an AI chatbot to your customers

When nothing worked, it began to send a signal to my cable box. It asked for my reaction after the signal was sent. Perhaps most important of all, it didn’t frustrate me any more than certain conversations I’ve had in the past with human Comcast customer service personnel — who clearly were reading from a script.

It took a couple of minutes of question and answer, but the bot made a firm promise that the problem would be fixed within a specific time.

A bot that tells the truth? That’s valuable

What most surprised me was that the bot was telling the truth. Whatever it did fixed the problem and made me consider that Xfinity must have made considerable improvements to its AI bot experience.

So I contacted the company to ask a little more.

An Xfinity spokesperson told me: “When a customer launches Xfinity Assistant, real-time network telemetry immediately scans the customer’s services or network connection to ensure the best, most reliable connection is available. If there’s an opportunity to improve the customer experience, Xfinity Assistant accesses a robust set of troubleshooting guides and tools, the same ones utilized by our agent.”

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It seems, then, that the robot was also telling the truth about having the same capabilities as a human Xfinity assistant.

The company insists that the melding of the telemetry and the troubleshooting abilities means that “overwhelmingly these issues are now resolved before any noticeable customer impact.”

The robot, however, does enjoy a level of self-awareness. Said the spokesperson: “In the small subset of cases requiring a technician visit, Xfinity Assistant now quickly and proactively offers one, which can be booked right within the experience. From here on out, the customer can manage easily and seamlessly the appointment through SMS or the App.”

One small step forward for AI?

Sometimes, pleasing customers ought to feel like an effortless — well, a minimally painless — experience. AI has, in my experience, not quite reached such a standard with any kind of regularity. It’s been easy to believe that some AI bot systems have been deliberately created to frustrate people so much that they’ll never want to contact customer service again.

Perhaps, though, Xfinity is beginning to realize that customers are asking fundamental questions about where and how to enjoy entertainment. Perhaps someone within the company suggested that improving the customer experience, even creating positive surprise, ought to bring a considerable emotional reaction to the brand. A positive emotional reaction, that is.

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For example, last month Comcast Xfinity doubled some customers’s digital speed and didn’t charge them a dime more. That’s a genre of proactivity one doesn’t expect, especially from large, previously unpopular companies.

Maybe I just got lucky. Because the conversation with the bot was swift and concrete, I didn’t even stop to consider that a bot had fixed my TV. 

All I can tell you is that this bot system nudged (slightly) higher my feelings about Xfinity.

I just want things to work, you know.





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