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??)