Customer retention. Those two words are what inspired a customer service agent to harass a subscriber trying to cancel his Comcast service over the phone. Now, Comcast has addressed its infamous customer service phone call in an internal memo leaked to The Consumerist yesterday and it’s really no wonder why trying to disconnect service was such a challenge.

Dave Watson, chief operating officer at Comcast admitted in a leaked memo, “It was painful to listen to this call,” but whatever public backlash the company has received, it has nothing but its internal policies to blame. Comcast “retention” agents are trained to be persistent with customers trying to disconnect their service. Unfortunately, this tends to lead to a disconnect with a retention agent’s ability to treat customers as real people who just want to cancel their freakin’ cable or Internet already.

Watson also admitted that the retention agent on the now viral call “did a lot of what we trained him and paid him … to do.” And it’s really no wonder why the guy was so pushy and downright rude on the phone. What you heard was the sound of desperation. Comcast “motivates” its employees by leveraging their pay based on the number of customers they lose and how many they convince to stay.

And it’s unlikely Comcast will eliminate this practice. Watson defended it to some degree. Of the retention agent, he wrote, “He tried to save a customer, and that’s important.” True enough. But when you’re rude to an exiting customer, you make a bad impression on current customers. Sort of common sense. At least one would think.

The memo is wrapped up with promises of training program reviews and coaching sessions for managers. How retention is incentivized will also be looked at. “We can, and will, do better,” Watson writes.

Back in May, Comcast and Time Warner were ranked as the least liked cable television providers by The American Customer Satisfaction Index.

VentureBeat's mission is to be a digital town square for technical decision-makers to gain knowledge about transformative enterprise technology and transact. Discover our Briefings.