Ferrarri vs AOL
Watch the exchange between MR Ferrari and the AOL customer rep.
I cancelled AOL a couple years ago. It was not as bad. AOL is in an awful industry sector, sunset sector with no way out. AOL tried to move its customers into braodband through partnering with Telcos, but they did not have much value than just being a re-sell agent. There was a surreal lame TV ad last year telling people AOL was a lid on your food tray when two guys were queuing in a cafeteria. US FCC refused unbundling internet service from Telcos and AOL's dial-up internet service is doomed.
At the end of the video clip it was said AOL issued an apology and said it fired the customer rep. The poor guys was trying very hard to do this job. Presumably he also has a playbook he got in the training and was reading lines from the book, although a bit blindly. You got to think he is not so creative as to invent the "may I speak to your dad" line. The fact that many people encountered similar experiences further showed that this rep was just unlucky to be caught on tape. I bet one gets similar response from every other AOL rep.
So what is AOL's problem? Complacency and scapegoating. AOL should have fired whoever who wrote the playbook or the trainer who either created this obnoxious playbook or mis-trained the reps to mis-use the playbook. If I were the rep in question, I would sue AOL. I hope AOL did not coerced him into signing any waiver.
This is one good management lesson, on cutsomer service, and human resource management, and more importantly, general management approach. Strategy-wise, AOL did admirably tried to leverage its portal and customer base to mimic google last year, though it is unclear how its luck has been. Judging from how AOL handled this incidence, I am very skeptical such management is capable of implementing that sound strategy.