(Photo by Holly Quinn)
You don’t have to be old school to remember what is was like before: Your cable would go out, you’d call Comcast tech support, and after a half hour of rebooting and sending signals to the cable box, they’d have to break it to you. You’re going to have to bring the box in to a Comcast service location and swap it for a new one.
My nearest service location was in the Penn Mart Shopping Center in New Castle. The same beat-up shopping center that was featured in the episode of Dirty Money on Netflix. It was cold and crowded and the employees, situated behind plexiglass like it was a dicey corner store, seemed miserable. I would be too. The Delaware DMV down the road was more inviting.
“That wasn’t the experience we wanted for our customers,” said Mark Dionne, Comcast’s VP of sales and marketing.
Now called The Xfinity Store, Comcast soft launched its first fully interactive, Apple Store–inspired location in Delaware at the Christiana Mall. (The location was preceded by earlier-model Xfinity Stores at Market Square on Concord Pike in Wilmington and on DuPont Highway in Dover).
Located next to The Microsoft Store, the new Xfinity Store is shockingly different from the cramped Penn Mart location. It’s bigger, brighter, way more inviting, and the employees seemed to actually enjoy what they were doing. Forget about walking in, taking a number, and sitting on a plastic chair with your equipment on your lap. Now, a customer-service person will greet you and take your equipment right away. You can take a seat, or you can explore the store, which has a different demo station in every area.
“The thing about our products,” said Dionne, “they can be as simple to use as you want them to be, but they also offer so much more. To be able to do that face-to-face in a live demo environment is really something critical to get the most out of the product.”
Or, if you’re not in the mood to demo, you can just watch TV — you’re allowed to turn the channels and watch.
“We want almost a coffee shop environment,” said Alexandra Wachman, the Comcast PR manager who gave me a tour. “If people want to hang out, they can hang out.”
Hanging out at the Comcast service center. What a world.
This new model is meant to draw people in. Yes, it’s where you go to swap out equipment and, if it’s your thing, pay you bill in-person. You can also shop for a new phone and accessories (Xfinity launched a wireless service a year ago), so it’s not just a place customers go when they’ve got an issue. Which probably helps the mood.
“The response at Christiana, especially from customers who were used to going to the old New Castle location, has been very enthusiastic,” said Dionne. “They love the design.”
The store is fully open, but its grand opening celebration is yet to come in October.-30-
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