Customer Service In The Citizen Media Age

This is a cautionary tale.

AOL has a reputation for being impossible to cancel. So in this day and age, you’d think they’d go to hurculean efforts to reverse that negative image. The reason they should go to such efforts began to play out on June 15th. That’s the day that Vincent Ferrari on his blog, , complete with .

After posting to his blog, Ferrari told consumer advocacy site about his post and they . Ferrari submitted the story to , as well. It got dug and the blogosphere was off and running with the story.

Here’s a chart showing blog posts tagged with the word "AOL" May 24 to June 22. That spike is June 15, the day Ferrari posted. The spikes of June 21 and 22 proably represent mainstream media coverage:

AOL Blog Mentions From May 24, 2006 to June 22, 2006

The buzz in the blogosphere lead to calls from the media and soon enough, Ferrari was doing TV interview after TV interview about his expeience. Here he is on the :

As of this writing, that single video was viewed 100,639 times, saved as a favorite 322 times, and made it to the Most Viewed and Most Discussed pages at .

AOL quickly issued a statment saying that they do not tolerate such treatment of customers and that the Customer Service Representative in question had been fired, but the damage had been done. The stereotype had been writ large and reinforced dramatically.

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