5 Lessons You Can Learn from a Breathtaking Customer Service Fail

5 Lessons You Can Learn from a Breathtaking Customer Service Fail

Reader Comments (58)

  1. Wow indeed!
    Paul Christoforo has just killed that companies business, his own business. He’ll never work again.
    Only a name change, personality change and plastic surgery can save him now.

  2. You forgot to mention failing to ensure that if you do hire a third party to deal with customer service, you have a contract that covers and provides penalties for egregeous behaviour that damages your company’s reputation.

  3. Just Wow…
    “Welcome to the Internet ? Son Im 38 ” – Great one. 38 but nothing learned in the last years…
    @Sarah: you’re right. That’s like a business headshot…

  4. Wow! Shaking my head while slowly clapping my hands, it’s a shame that people gotta be that way. Karma’s a *****!

  5. Unbelievable. Really, really unbelievable. Mind boggling, actually! It kind of sounds like kindergarten playground banter with grown-up language.

    So true that an ounce of respect and decorum can go so far in resolving conflict. And I love your point that most complaints have nothing to do with products. So true. Great lessons here – thanks for the synopsis.

  6. While looking for reviews on a Copyblogger product, I stumbled upon a comment section fire fight between Brian Clark and the blogger. I didn’t even agree with the primary assertion of the blogger, but I couldn’t take my eyes away from Brian’s increasing agitated response. I also saw that other blogs picked up the story.

    I actually still purchased the product, and I love the product, and I referred people to the product…

    But it’s hard not to forget that blog dustup!

    • Different situations, but you make a good point that when you lose your temper, you lose power.

      Happens to all of us at times, but it can’t happen in a customer support setting like this one.

  7. Christoforo named dropped to get his way to the top but he didn’t actually know any of the people. That’s another lesson.

    • Absolutely, thanks for the reminder. Lame at the best of times, guaranteed FAIL if you do it online where it’s easy for people to see you’ve done it and disavow any relationship.

  8. Thanks Sonia,
    I love stories and this was a dramatic one; a great twist on the premis that we never grow up. The mudslinging and bullying created traits for a terrific villian, especially when they originated from an adult who almost gleefully used them against a child. I look forward to building a new character from this material and perhaps using it in my next conference. Such moral bankruptcy is worth a long term study to see when he completes his inevitable self destruction. Hopefully, he will have ground his company into the ground first so that the impact is limited to him.

    You post was a new year’s gift.
    Thank you.

  9. It’s pretty hard to imagine how one small email exchange could ruin a person… still, Paul deserved it after being such a bastard!

    Also, as a grammar nazi… my eyes burnt from reading it on penny arcade, god awful spelling!

    • The email just snowballed into revealing a lot of other behavior that was easy to find on the web once people started looking.

      You can have a really, really bad day and go off on someone and have things turn out ok. This was more like a pattern of behavior that finally caught up with the person.

      • I see your point. Dave was tolerant at first but after Paul repeated himself a couple of times and then ended with a big rant, that’s when Dave exploded. Check mate Paul, you cornered your own king there.

        • Right — and Dave didn’t lose anything, he didn’t get any bad karma when his patience ran out.

          Sometimes we do lose our tempers and it would be silly if I tried to tell people never to get snippy on the internet. 🙂 But people who have a pattern of being nasty online have a way of attracting failure.

  10. I was a little late in reading this story, only did a couple of days ago and found it funny, the spin people had put on it, and then the stupidity of this person came to mind.

    If you run a business, I don’t how you would think you would ever get away with being so rude to a customer. It isn’t hard to show some good manners after all. Even if he felt angry at the time, it was an email, he could have calmed down and thought about what he was going to say. But who can say what was going through his mind at the time.

    Good manners cost nothing.

  11. I look at social marketing like this — if you wouldn’t plaster it on a billboard for your mother to see — don’t put it out there for the internet.

    I have a feeling “going Christoforo” is going to be the next meme – similar to “going postal” – but for the social web.

  12. That email exchange was hilarious. Love the “bonus lesson” too.

    Being polite goes a long way. And it’s amazing how two nice people can blow up in each other’s face with the right ingredients. I became good friends at Blog World with people I’d offended in this virtual thingy.

    And it’s looking like 2011 is static HTML, Brian. 🙂

  13. Wow. Good manners are so important. This is true of writers promoting their novels, like I am. There was a terrible dust up last year with a writer unhappy with her review. 1400 posts later… Worst publicity for a book. You just have be polite and listen. In customer service, take the critiquer seriously.

  14. Hi Sonia,

    If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything nasty.

    The quickest way to absolutely crash and burn in social media – or life – is to be a jerk. It takes a bit of self control and a wide, toothy grin, but you can take just about any complaint in a positive light. Be nice. Smile. Be courteous.

    The second you get snippy, or nasty, or low energy, karma becomes a problem. Quickly. A little while back another individual wrote a pretty low energy comment on 1 of my posts. Mind you, no business relationship exists between us, but does this person realize how poorly said comment reflects on their brand? Once you hit “enter”, it’s up for social consumption, and when someone gets their cyber paws on your snippy commentary, forget about it.

    Thanks for sharing the cautionary tale Sonia.


  15. Wow. I never thought a professional would stoop to name calling with a customer. And I thought I had bad customer service last week. An impatient cashier pales in comparison to what Dave had to endure.

    • Of course he’s not a professional service rep (um, good thing) — he was “helping out.” Which leads me to another lesson I could have put in there — communication with your customer (whether private like email or public like twitter) isn’t an afterthought you can leave to some dude who happens to be hanging around your office.

  16. Great post, Sonia – “just wow” is right! And I thought my experience with Verizon was bad (the story’s on my blog if you’re so inclined) – at least they never descended into verbal (or grammatical) abuse!

  17. As my boss says; good customer service goes unsaid – bad customer service always gets spoken.

  18. I agree this is a powerful story that can teach a lot, and I’d be interested to know more of Christoforo’s life-experience. I don’t think people are just magically born assholes, and I like to think he’s grown from this experience, and sometime from now, he’ll be more… solution-oriented. 🙂

    My favourite part from this post Sonia, is:

    “Dan Kennedy said a long time ago that if your business sucks, great marketing will get the word out really quickly about how wretched you are. Some people think Dan doesn’t understand the internet, but I think he’s got it in a nutshell there.”

    LOVE this. 🙂

    Dan has a brilliant mind, and is quite the personality, and has generally stayed away from most of the internet — but he most definitely understands a cornerstone of the internet: communication.

    • One of Kennedy’s great strengths is that he doesn’t get distracted, he focuses on fundamentals. He understands that a powerful underlying message remains powerful no matter how it’s delivered. A lot of more allegedly “sophisticated” social media pundits don’t get that.

      • yes, Yes, YES.

        Preach on 😉

        I may quote you on this, if you’re cool with it.

        “A powerful underlying message remains powerful no matter how it’s delivered. ” – Sonia Simone (Google says no one else on the net has said this exact phrase :P)

        I’d love more people to understand this concept so clearly.

  19. This was great. I needed to hear some of these things as well but I can relate to some of those bad “social media consultants.” Some of these individuals are not quite so great in terms of what they actually do and can hurt you more than help you. It is alway important to look at the work that they have done first before checking out with them.

  20. I have never thought of it that way, you are so right people don’t usually complain about a broken product but they will about bad customer service. I guess customer service can be rectified very quickly whereas a product will take more time to rectify.

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