For the past several days, AOL has been getting black and blue marks because of an entertaining (and shocking) audio clip that’s been circulating on the ‘Net.
The clip is true, unedited and disturbing. (Read the transcript.)
It brings to life a phone call between an AOL customer, Vincent Ferrari, and an AOL customer service representative. Mr. Ferrari made the call to cancel his account.
Three minutes and 39 seconds later the phone call ended and his account was canceled.
But, he had to ask NINE times.
The customer “service” representative kept asking more and more questions. He kept avoiding Ferrari’s request.
After the call, Ferrari was so upset, he posted the recording to his website.
Yesterday he was interviewed by CNBC about it.
The first thing that bugs me about this is that an AOL customer should have to use the phone to cancel their account.
Turn this around and see how it would look.
What if AOL forced you to CALL them to become their customer? What if they wasted your time with nosy questions while ignoring your request to become their customer?
Do you think they’d have millions of customers?
Of course not.
Why do companies think it’s okay to make it fast, easy and simple to BECOME their customer and then make it a hassle to STOP using their their service?
Vonage does this. So does our newspaper. So do thousands of other companies, large and small.
The doors only swing one direction.
Companies abuse customers like this for two reasons. One is because they truly think it helps them keep more customers. Two is because they think they can get away with it. They think they hold all the power.
Both reasons are wrong. And both are bad for business.
The people at these companies forget a couple things.
The first thing is that when you abuse people, they will leave. They won’t come back. And they’ll tell their friends bad things about you.
Which is reasonable.
The second thing they forget is you can no longer hide from your bad behavior. The Internet has changed that. If you’re going to abuse your (whether by policy or because you just feel like it that day) some of them will tell the world.
Like Vincent Ferrari did.
AOL issued a statement explaining and apologizing for this incident. Company spokesperson, Nicholas Graham said this sort of phone call is a violation of “…our customer service guidelines and practices, and everything that AOL believes to be important in customer care…”
That sounds good, after the fact.
But let’s remember one thing. Vincent Ferrari decided to record the phone call BEFORE he made the call. Not after.
He must have had a good reason to go to the trouble of recording the call. And he did. He had heard AOL was difficult to deal with when canceling accounts.
So, with all due respect to Mr. Nicholas Graham and the alleged AOL customer service guidelines, something tells me this call was not unique in it’s content. It probably unique only in it’s outcome.
When companies start treating people with respect and courtesy, they’ll find more customers stay with them. Anytime a company’s policies are so blatantly lopsided and disrespectful to their customers, look for other problems with the company.
The sort of attitude that enables people to abuse customers will permeate the company’s every decision and every action. You’ll see it come out in many ways, not just in customer service.
As a business owner or manager, treat everyone well, all the time and you’ll be amazed how well your customer treat you.