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Vincent’s wave against G(AOL)iath - July 4th, 2006

Posted by mindblob in Marketing 2.0.

Vincent Ferrari

Athough this is not really news anymore, it is worth being noticed as linked to marketing 2.0.

What could one unsatisfied customer do against a giant like AOL? Write a letter? Hire a lawyer to sue them? Bell doors in his town and start a petition? Nothing? “David against Goliath” one might say. Well, not exactly. Not anymore. That’s the story of 30 years old Vincent Ferrari. He had heard that lots of people were having the same kind of problems to cancel their account, so he decided to find out if they were exagerating or if it was reflecting a real issue. So basically, what the man did is call AOL and ask them to simply “cancel his account”. Not a problem you think? Not really… it took him 15 minutes to get to a real person and then… the incredible happened. The thing is you can exactly experience what he’s been through as Vincent recorded the whole conversation and published it on his blog (just check how many comments he received on his post).

Then the blogosphere takes on the information and as the spread is quite wide, the relay is taken by the press. Follows an interview on NBC, published on Youtube plus an article published on The New York Times. And the story is still getting more diggs every day.

Well, yes… AOL apologized. But what about the mediatic disaster of this experience, now? Whoever worked on building corporate image knows. It’s D-R-A-M-A-T-I-C !

So, this relates to the fact that brands and big corporations definitely have to consider their customers more than ever. The reason is that now, customers can speak as loud as them on the internet. And customers have spontaneously more sympathy for other customers, sharing a real experience, than they do for brands or corporations communicating, the same kind of messages over and over again. Small drops making huge waves at the end… waves bigger than the giants.



1. The Artist - - July 11th, 2006

That is such an inspirational story, has made my morning, best wishes, The Artist

2. Kyle Korleski - - July 21st, 2006

What AOL doesn’t want you to know is that AOL’s Member Services is staffed by individuals with varying training in sales techniques. These individuals (known as savers, member retention consultants, the saves queue, etc) are employed by AOL to improve AOL’s bottom line. Other representatives are also cross-trained into this area (they are known as SRV reps, or saves reserves). These reps collectively will negotiate, barter, cajole, persuade, deceive, or force you to keep your account in any of the ways that they find appropriate and believe that they are right in using (most of the time). They have a large arsenal of tools and offers available for use that are meant to preserve the sheer numbers of AOL’s membership even at the expense of a month or two where they pick up the tab for your service. These reps are paid an hourly wage comparable to all other representatives and also earn a commission (saves bonus) based on the combination of the rep’s saves percentage (the number of people in a month that were still members after talking with the rep) and his retention rate (the percentage of those members saved that remain on the service after three months without calling to cancel again). A 5-10 minute conversation that you may have with this representative is potentially worth up to $12 for that rep and bonuses of $1000-$2000 per month are not unusual. I shouldn’t have to say it, but these AOL employees are out for blood. If they think that there is even a chance that you will stay with the service, they will go after you–sometimes beligerently.

3. mindblob - - July 21st, 2006

So many information on AOL sales/after-sales dpt dissapointing customers seem to come out lately, after Vincent Ferrari’s idea to share his experience on the net. This is definitely not going to do any good to the giant, right.

Now as people read reviews and blogs sharing opinions on a subject before they actually choose a product or service, so… there should obviously be consequences on sales at AOL after this story. Question is : how big is the damage to AOL? After all, are more people going to cancel their accounts and less people going to choose AOL?

Anyone have figures on this matter? (Before / After)

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