Comcast Corp. will add 400 jobs at its customer service center in St. Paul next year, boosting its existing staff of 2,000 people in the Twin Cities, the company said Monday.
The move is part of a broader effort by the nation's largest cable and Internet service provider to repair its battered reputation for customer service.
The company, based in Philadelphia, earlier this fall announced it would add 5,500 people to its customer service staff nationwide. In the weeks since then, it has notified local offices and government officials of expansions, including in Knoxville, Tenn., and the Boston area.
Comcast also announced Monday it would lease more space in the 10 River Park Plaza complex, just across the Mississippi River from downtown St. Paul.
The company said it would apply for job creation incentives offered by the state of Minnesota. It is eligible for up to $1 million from the Minnesota Investment Fund and up to $400,000 from the Minnesota Job Skills Partnership, the Department of Employment and Economic Development said.
"We worked closely with Minnesota state and local government on an incentive appropriate for this project, and we sincerely appreciate their support," Comcast said in a statement.
The company's expansion announcement contained a congratulatory comment from Gov. Mark Dayton.
The cable industry, shaped by monopoly control in localities, for decades has been notorious for poor customer service. For Comcast, a turning point came last year when a video went viral of a customer who recorded himself trying to end a service contract with them. The phone call lasted for 20 minutes and illustrated the company's aggressive tactics to prevent cancellations.
The video emerged at a time when Comcast was seeking regulatory approval for an acquisition of Time Warner Cable, its biggest rival in cable TV delivery. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., became a vocal critic of the deal, which ultimately collapsed in April under pressure from regulators and swift changes in the market.
For several years, growing numbers of customers canceled cable TV service as video streaming services delivered via the Internet rose.
In its latest quarterly results announced last month, Comcast said it continued to lose cable-only subscribers but that growth accelerated for customers who packaged cable service with Internet and telephone.
The company said it is spending more on employee training, simplified billing and new technologies to help customers.
Comcast will begin advertising the additional St. Paul positions next month and said its representatives would also recruit people at area job fairs. Hiring will begin early next year, the company said.