As we stroll through day 2 of the Carnivale of Customer Service, we’ve gone past the bright midway containing the best practices, now we step into the dark alley of bad customer service. Peter Horan, of Allbusiness.com, blogs about how easily negative word of mouth can get started. Think back to our last two posts. Thom Singer gave us a good, and a not so good, example of customer service. Lisa Dennis described an artful recovery by the staff of The Cheesecake Factory after an initial mistake by a rookie. I wouldn’t be surprised if the two companies that received positive word of mouth didn’t pick up some extra sales as a result of those two blog posts.
But what happens when you marry a bad experience with 21st century technology? In a post from July, Peter writes:
A consumer action website recently obtained a copy of the playbook used by the AOL “customer service’ rep when he stubbornly refused to cancel the customer’s account. What’s clear is that even though that guy got fired, he hadn’t simply gone rogue. He was just a little overly enthusiastic in his use of the company’s manual. Take a look at the manual here. Trying hard to keep unhappy customers is a worthwhile strategy. Refusing to cancel their service is abusive.
There was an old rule of thumb that happy customers tell two people and unhappy customers tell ten. Now, through the miracle of modern technology, those unhappy customers are likely to tell ten thousand “friends”. As this article from the Washington Post highlights unhappy customers are not suffering in silence. Two recent examples have caught the nation’s attention. First, when AOL refused to let a customer cancel their account, that customer taped the call and sent it across the internet. Suddenly AOL was being roasted and toasted on The Today Show. In that case, the unhappy customer probably told ten MILLION others how horrible AOL was to deal with. Similarly, when a Comcast cable installer fell asleep on a customer’s couch, the customer videotaped the fool and broadcast it. The ultimate irony is that the installer fell asleep because Comcast had put HIM on hold for an hour. It just went from bad to worse for Comcast.
Here are a couple of ideas. More…