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Ep. 21: Toni Murphy of Comcast

Summer of 50 PGH Tech Stories

Toni Murphy, Comcast Vice President of Sales and Marketing for the Keystone Region, talks about Comcast's response to COVID-19. We discuss everything from Comcast's engineers keeping the network at top efficiency to special programs aimed to help customers get on-line and stay online with seamless service. Plus, Toni talks about the upcoming Athena Awards in September. Summer of 50 PGH Tech Stories is powered by Comcast!COmcast



We are back everybody bringing you more and more stories hanging out with Comcast couldn't have a better partner to tell our 50 or 50 stories of tech in summer. Today's guest is someone who I've known for a little while is part of Comcast, you have Toni Murphy, the VP of Sales and Marketing for the Keystone region. Toni, it's always a pleasure to hang out with you because you bring this energy like all the time, like double charges me up. So I'm just saying I'm gonna warn everybody right now that I just might go nuts because a little bit of Tony time is worth it's like it's like five cups of coffee.

I don't know my kids would agree with you, but I'll take it.

But they need to hear otherwise, your place and I'll let them know.

Absolutely. Can you do some great work around the Pittsburgh area and I'm just so excited to learn more about what Comcast has done during this crazy pandemics. I think some of the best work done goes on song because like, honestly, so many of us just take for granted that when we're all jumping on zoom calls now every day that the work is like, it's not happened by accident like whatsoever. It's easy, smart people keeping the networks up and running. It's a simple, right?

That's right. I always say you don't know what you have until you really really have to use it.

Yes. And until it's gone, you don't know what you have until you really really need it. And I could not be more proud of our company than I am right now for that. I've firsthand seen the work that you guys have been doing and it just blows my freakin mind. So So tell us it's a start off. How's Comcast been doing over the past like three months?

Well, we've been doing great, you know, I'm so honored to be in this capacity. You know, I've always loved my work, but I haven't loved it any more than I do right now. Starting in March when this pandemic started. Did you can imagine, you know, folks were mobilizing to work from home companies closing down their offices. And within a second, our business, our demand for our products start up by over 30% like goodwill. Oh, yeah, I mean, folks, I mean, it's funny too, because you would think everybody already has at home, but some folks use their cell phones to manage what they need from a data perspective. But when you're going to work from home and, and all that jazz, on your cell phone, so so what we found is folks were flooding our lives. We weren't we had in some cases, you know, 3040 minute wait times on, like, you got to manage this. This, you could pass it by keeping you folks happy and getting your ceramsite up like that's right at home at the same time. And I'll tell you, I mean, we've always known that our network was reliable, but I'll tell you, the tech ops teams and our engineering teams have worked extraordinarily hard to make the network is basically foolproof. You can, if you think about it, in an average home folks have somewhere in the neighborhood of five or six devices that are connected to the internet. And you multiply that across millions and millions of customers. I know that puts a lot of stress on the system. But our company's done a great job of making sure we have the right capacity levels, you know, making sure we can get to every customer at every part of our footprint. So I'm really proud of that. And I can tell you every time I go to a grocery store, and they see me with a Comcast shirt on, they're like, thank God for Comcast. I believe it.

I believe it is. And what I often say is like, if this pandemic would have happened, like 5-10 years ago, it would have been a whole nother story, because once again, we take for granted that we're able to operate pretty much seamlessly all of this because of the awesome network that is out there right now.

Oh, totally. I mean, and, you know, I look at I look at our products, a lot of different ways, right. So we oftentimes About the internet, but I'll also tell you that for folks who are homeschooling or folks who have to keep kids entertained, right? That's one platform has been their go to right now My kids love going onto the excellent platform and saying, you know, you know xfinity summer camp on The Voice remote, cool, cool activities for kids. And they you know, obviously watching all the movies and you know, something people take for granted. We used to love you know, summertime, people are known to go to the movies right during the summers that's like the best.

And it's not happening but guess what, now you have new releases on x one so we watch trolls right from the comfort of our own home. My kids even made like, like tickets like we were going to the mall. That's so cool.

Popcorn and all that Japanese like really going to the movie theater. Show that we've got. We've got I've been so amazed at how we were able to pivot our business in a very thoughtful way and meet customers where they were.

That's what it's all about. It was part of that it was I remember, you guys rolled out some really crazy cool offers, because you want to make sure that everybody can have access to this.

Yeah, well, so we have a product, what we call internet essentials. And one of the things I'm always very passionate about as a woman of color, as well as a woman of, you know, that grew up on a lower middle middle class, family. And so I know how what it takes to make ends meet. And so I'm grateful for internet essentials, because when folks are transitioning to working from home, you know, they need to have the internet but we can't make it so that, you know, cost is a reason why you don't give your children access to the internet to be able to do their homework. So we essentially, during this, this pandemic, we have been extending our internet essentials platform and giving out two months free, you know, so you can just don't even worry about the cost, get yourself set up. And some that folks will love the product enough to you know, to keep it once they get through the free months and and it's showing it's showing that to be the case but I'm so grateful to that in and it's an means the great equalizer and I just feel like we're doing I love that we're doing our part to manage the pandemic.

Absolutely. And like the work you guys have done with places like neighboring allies and so forth, for sure that there's access to the to the internet essentials like, these are all these things were just happening. But like I said, People aren't always hearing about it. That's why I want to shout it out.

Yeah, you know, we give out a lot of we get out, we give out a lot of laptops, we give a lot give out a lot of free internet, we don't typically require a lot of things. But I'm really grateful. Um, you know, when we found out that there were students who did not during this pandemic did not have access to the internet and didn't have a home computer. I was grateful that we partnered with them to make that happen. And so again, you know, every day we're trying to make sure that folks not only adults who have to work from home, but students especially as we're gearing up for the fall, you folks are probably likely going to be working some to some degree from home and actually homeschooling on some level. I think I have to say that's gonna happen at this point. Yeah, for because all it's gonna take is one thing and then it's like we're all back. And it's just right.

That's right. That's right. The other thing I would say about saving, saving customers money is, you know, one of the things we've seen over the pandemic, our xfinity mobile product has gangbusters, right? Because they know customers look at that and sound money on my cell phone. Well, now you have, you know, basically a fantastic new phone. The the advantage of a great LTE network and the advantage of a great Wi Fi hotspots all over the country, you know, they're saving themselves a lot of money from a data consumption perspective. So you know, it's just been a win win, win, win, win win, win win the trends I think you guys have been experiencing and maybe give me more details on this has been around the fact that people just want to get internet now then those definitely want to bundle it with the other part.

Yeah, he's back.

Yeah, so look, you know, so certainly through this pandemic, you know, when this starts Folks, we're literally flooding our phones and hey, I just need internet. And they've been getting a range of speeds. You know, gig speeds, you know. 500 Meg's and even beyond that. But you know, I know what we what we've been watching as a trend is that, you know, folks that aren't necessarily you know, committed to tethering themselves to one set of devices but we do have a product that we call flex and flex is basically our streaming platform. So when a customer gets it, they just call us all I want is internet. We're throwing flex in because we know ultimately who is watching television, everybody's watching television, it's the differences what platform are they using to watch it they're probably use Hulu or Apple TV or whatever the case may be. So flex basically gives customers the ability to get access to lots and lots of content. You get peacock for free, which is our new streaming service. And then it's so on peacock you get over 10,000 brand new, you know brand new pieces of shows and content. But you've seen some of it is a content we've known before like Seinfeld, and alone, I would get it just because I get access to all the Seinfeld.

Oh my god, I love that looks like or even like Saturday Night Live. I still the reruns from when when Eddie Murphy was there, right. So, you know, so that's started flex as an aberration to be we know that folks like to stream like to have, you know the ability to get video their way. And so we've actually we've actually, we have over a million folks who've taken our flex, flex. So there's really no you know, yeah, yeah, in less than a year, less than a year.

I think most people don't know that. They think they know how to get the whole thing together but they don't they can just get the flex and they're absolutely getting

it they come to one of my fabulous retail stores. I would love for them.

We like we were hanging out there last year doing our tech five that's right over any celebrity. That's right.

Good times. I remember that. That was hell yeah. Yeah. I also know that Comcast has done a lot for its own employees doors as well. Because it's like your frontline workers here. I mean, because like I said, this is like electricity. At the end of the day. It's like running water, like with this stuff doesn't work. The world is not happy. Yeah, obviously your workers have been going like crazy is running. So I'm sure Comcast has done tons to thank them and do stuff. What's been going on there?

Yeah. So look, I you know, this, this is near and dear to my heart. So when this pandemic started, we run a very, very large organization, I think you know, about our big office over in the Robinson area in North via a big office over in the West in your downtown. And literally overnight, we mobilized all those employees to work from home, we found devices and setups and extra, you know, desktop screens and we literally mobilize everyone to work from home in less than seven days. And when the operation of this size It took a lot of coordination. So hats off to our IT group our facilities. They did an amazing job. And, and even through that, you know, we've been leveraging Microsoft Teams to have great conversations. internally. Ironically, I'm gonna tell you this, we had we just we do the Net Promoter system. We practice that here at Comcast. And we have an employee survey every other month where we ask them, How do you think we're doing?

Okay, we had our best NPS scores every year. It was amazing.

Because folks really felt our team really felt like we cared about them, we show that we understood how important it was for you to be mobilized and to help our customer but we wanted to make sure we were taking they're taking their health very, very seriously. I will also tell you that, you know, on the Comcast business side, we actually have, we've actually put together a bunch of test sites were COVID and they obviously needed internet service. So partnering with you know, West Virginia, you Diversity medical system to test sites launch for them. That was, you know, our team loved the fact that they were helping with the pandemic in their own special way.

Because everyone's feeling like yeah, they're there to contribute through their job and the work that they're doing. They're actually other people through this whole thing.

Absolutely. And then certainly I know folks have a lot of people been coming to our stores even during this pandemic. We're obviously doing all the right things in terms of making sure we have the right safety protocols and plexiglass and the six feet of distance between our customers and our employees have really appreciate us taking their health seriously, and the health of our our customers. So even if folks want to come down to our stores, they can go it's very, very safe. We're keeping everyone safe, and we can still give you the great customer experience that everyone deserves very good stuff. So glad to talk to you today. Tony and I was just a little bit because this is something else. It's near and dear to our heart. The tech counts in my heart. I know your heart, as well. You know, words are coming The Pittsburgh tech Council is now the the convener of the Athena awards, it recognizes just some of Pittsburgh's most awesome women because we got some of the smartest women in the world and we'd like to recognize them. Tell us a little bit about the Athena awards, why they're so important to us. I know you've had a little association with them in the past is being honored by them in the past, and you've also been a huge help to us in rallying support during this difficult time to get people to nominate because right now people are like, loving the war. It's like, Yes, they're gonna be virtual and kick butt.

Yeah. Well, first of all, thank you so much in the tech Council for taking up this banner of owning this prestigious award going forward. I think it's a perfect marriage. You've got a phenomenal woman at the helm of the tech Council. Oh, and I know she's a great advocate of women. For those who aren't familiar. The Athena award is really about celebrating women who are uplifting and empower empowering communities and other women through mentorship and community engagement. I was very honored to be The 2018 young Athena award winner, I was had an opportunity to bring my mother and seat so she could see all the words read. Yeah, it was great. So look, I I think there's a lot of great women in the city, especially right now. We're doing great work, whether it be nurses, executives, you know, you name it, there are women who are helping us prosper in a beautiful way in the city of Pittsburgh. And we should honor them and say thank you for what they've done.

So I am going to call for more nominations.

And if you want to attend the then I'm sure we're going to have a great probably virtual maybe I don't know, but it's gonna be awesome because we learn. We get our CIO of the Year awards last week, and they came out awesome. Like we have this thing that we're gonna make thena even better. Why are you helping us, Tony, that's Hey, right. So I'm gonna do my part. Make sure folks show up. And I would just say anybody watching this or listening to this, make sure you nominate some folks and please make sure you attend.

Absolutely See I told everybody this is like having five cups of coffee. One, two. Now I'm like so charged up I got to go do something. But now it's terrible. I love hanging out with you, Tony. I love you too like and more important I love hearing these awesome stories coming from Comcast right now. It goes to show you man companies are stepping up in some big big ways and oh, yeah, that's right. That's right. We can do anything this this pandemic has shown that we all can do anything. Anything's possible. I would agree. Absolutely.

Tony, you're making Pittsburgh proud love having you on the show. And you guys of course making this happen as I point to the old Comcast logo behind you, right? Yes, futon all these freaking awesome stories. So we'll leave it at that.

Awesome. Thanks, Jonathan. 

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