Taking Customer Service To A Whole New Level

December 4, 2010

I don’t care what the newspapers say about me as long as they spell my name right.

Phineas Taylor Barnum, ole P.T. himself, the American master of 19th century public relations,  might as well have been talking about shiny new search engines, optimization and the foundation of internet commerce rather than media as quaint as a newspaper.

Seems an online company specializing in e-commerce in a particularly high-margin category rose to the top of the Google search rankings – by following P.T.’s advice.

The company gamed the system to maximize mentions, links, references and otherwise lots and lots of notice about their customer service. And all those mentions pushed it to the top of the Goobledy Goo search rankings.

What got all those people talking (I mean typing?) –

Was it their Nordstrom or Bloomingdales level of great customer service?

Absolutely Not.

On the contrary, it was their downright dreadful customer service.  I mean really intentionally, scarily bad customer service, complete with insults, taunts threats of bodily harm, after as many purchases gone wrong as possible.

All done with forethought and intention.  To get people typing. To raise the company higher and higher in search rankings.

And it worked. More unhappy customers meant more internet chatter. Which meant higher rankings. Which meant more sales.

Happy Customers? I got your black box Goobledy Goo search engine “fairness” algorithms right here.

P. T. Barnum also is alleged to have said “There’s a sucker born every minute.”



{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Viewser December 4, 2010

Some issues I see.
1. Victims complained to some of the industries that claim to self regulate for two years about this behavior and nothing was done. Industries such as banking (credit cards), Google and other online companies including the one hosting the offending website and even the police. What really is the capacity of the internet to regulate itself? Does the FTC or the ICC need to spend more time regulating this kind of behavior.
2. It took a newspaper (NYT) writing about this nonsense to actually get authorities to nudge the website to change its behavior. Old media had call attention to this new media issue to get anything done?

How about you? Any issues you see?
Please keep comments constructive. They can be anonymous.

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