Customer Service and anti-Customer Service

Remember one of my mantras? Your staff are members of online social networks too? Hat tip to Steven Lewis at Zest:

Irish blogger Damien Mulley complained on his blog about the service of his airline’s ground agent, Sky Handling Partner. In return someone at Sky Handling Partner allegedly signed Damien up for some gay dating websites.

Now there’s an oopsie in the making… (front page of Digg already happened).

I remember employing (accidentally!) a hacker back on 1995 who, upon being sacked and removed from the premises, signed me up for a million listservs. Bless. Once I tracked down the signup IP address (some listservs and email lists keep them) I was able to find his ISP, and quietly have a word with them to ascertain that his account had dialled in on a particular modem at a particular time and been allocated that IP address. I think it would be much harder today.

About 6 years ago, while running customer service moderation for a US MMORPG games company, we had a little “incident”. Well, I ran the forums and managed the moderators and the editors and we also did some work in-world as well. One day we had a bunch of new signups stirring up some established members who were very critical of the parent company. So I did what I normally do. I banned those accounts (I’m quick to ban accounts with 1 post, slower with members who have 1000, it’s all about intent). Oh and blocked the IP addresses too(it was obvious they were coming from the same IP range).

Next thing I know, customer service couldn’t log into any systems. Man, we searched high and low to find out what was causing the error. I blamed the firewall (trust me, it’s ALWAYS the firewall. Heh.) But it wasn’t. Seems the little smartypants had had enough of being badmouthed, and created duplicate accounts so they could attack back. And given their job was to quieten down the forums and provide y’know, customer service .. well, trust me, the results weren’t pretty.

But it taught me a lesson I haven’t forgotten over the last few years: staff are members of community too. This is not phone support – ‘keep call wait down to less than 20 seconds and calls to less than 2 minutes’ – this is validation, self respect, dialogue, inclusion, pride-in-job and feelings. And if there is any risk of your moderators (customer service staff) having IRL threats made against them, of them having to deal with a suicidal teenager or a drunk idiot or a hated paedophile or any other situation that “Good Afternoon, BigPond/OptusNet/Ozemail support, Thank you for phoning” doesn’t teach them how to cope with, you had better start planning for some fall-out.

Everyone gets a voice, nowadays. Apply a bit of stress and they will use it…

(Edit: I forgot to say, Damien’s post “Why Sky Handling are c**ts” is currently 3rd on Google if you search for sky handling partner – shall we keep an eye on it??)

Laurel Papworth

Named by Forbes™ Magazine in the Top 50 Social Media Influencers globally, named Head of Industry, Social Media (Marketing Magazine™) and in the Power150 Media bloggers (AdAge™). CERT IV Training and Assessment certified trainer (Diplomas and Certificates etc) Adult Education. Laurel has manager Facebook Pages for Junior Masterchef, Idol, Big Brother etc. and have consulted on private online communities for banks Westpac, not for profits UNHCR & governments in SE Asia. Lecturer, social media, University of Sydney for 10 years and Laurel has 11,000 online students. Laurel Papworth personally connects to 6 million followers online and has taught around 100,000 people in the last 10 years how to be social media managers.

4 thoughts on “Customer Service and anti-Customer Service

  1. Someone who didn’t like my column in a Hong Kong newspaper once spoofed my email address to send inter-racial porn with white supremacist commentary to a number of newsgroups where those sorts of views weren’t going to go down well.

    Back then — over a decade now — these things weren’t archived so well so I was able to have them deleted from archives. How do you explain to a prospective employer that those racist postings only look like they came from your email address?

  2. Ah yes, the Paris Hilton Factor. Why Paris? Because she embodies everything about We Media and the branding of ourselves as protostars (baby stars). We now have to live with the same scrutiny that a celebrity has. Yessir, Google as Paparazzi. Would that be Digerazzi? Anyway, We The Public as media entities, entertaining the masses with our normal daily boring lives.

    Remind me not to rank and rate reviews of rehab day spas, post up my sex tapes to a private hosting service, or comment on some whacko religious cult site that I belong to. Oops. Too late. 😛

    Andy Warhol should’ve extrapolated out – In the future everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes… with their own blog, a YouTube channel, Flickr friends, Facebook profile, Google ranking of +6 or above, Alexa rating of 1, 3500 trackbacks and 4 million media impressions. That will soon be everyone’s reality, not just us webby 2.0 heads.

    Anyway Steven, any employer who thinks you are stupid enough to post white supremacist crap under your own name is not smart enough to employ you. Cos we all know you as KKKlanMan. 🙂

    But I shouldn’t joke. Identity theft is one of the three big issues I’m often asked to talk on. OpenID won’t come even close to solving it. And think of Flickr and TypePad et al deleting peoples content in the last couple of weeks due to deliberate identity (and content) theft!

    I spoke at WebJam last week, saying we need to set up an organisation to educate about these issues. Let’s see how far we get… 🙂

  3. The price of popularity for Mulley.Net when I tried to access this morning

    This account has been suspended.
    Either the domain has been overused, or the reseller ran out of resources.

  4. Hmmm. Works fine for me, right now. Maybe you have a filter on? But the post with naughty words in the title disappeared off Google but his other one is now 2nd. Sky Handling Partners must be pulling their hair out. Anyone seen a formal response from them yet?

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