Customer Abuse? Good Triumphs Over Evil


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Who needs to go to a melodrama when you have “As the Customer Service Turns!”  In case you missed any of the plot twists , let me give you the “very abridged” version and the business-oriented “moral of the story.”

Meet our villain, Vitaly Borker, the online merchant behind the DecorMyEye’s website.  Vitaly is alleged to have been selling counterfeit designer sunglasses but that’s not even the good, or should I say bad, part!

During this season of thanks, joy, and spiritual focus, Vitaly was driving up his online popularity (in Google search engine rankings) by agitating, provoking, and out-right threatening customers.  In essence, he was strategically driving traffic to his website through intentionally abusive customer service.

Fear not the heroes are about to arrive!

The New York Times exposed Vitaly’s evil scheme (for the gorey deals you can click here)! That “publicity” then launched Google and the New York City Police Department in to action!  Google changed the algorithm it uses to calculate page rankings noting:

“we immediately convened a team that looked carefully at the issue. That team developed an initial algorithmic solution, implemented it, and the solution is already live. I am here to tell you that being bad is, and hopefully will always be, bad for business in Google’s search results…The algorithmic solution detects the merchant from the Times article along with hundreds of other merchants that, in our opinion, provide an extremely poor user experience. The algorithm we incorporated into our search rankings represents an initial solution to this issue, and Google users are now getting a better experience as a result.”

The NYPD paid a visit to Vitaly and he was arrested and accused of:

“acting toward customers unlawfully, willfully and knowingly, with the intent to kill, injure, harass and place under surveillance with intent to kill, injure, harass and intimidate, and to cause substantial emotional distress.”

For awhile it appeared that “customer abuse” was leading to increased brand popularity BUT unlike the adage, “all publicity is good publicity”, Vitaly demonstrates that sustainable brands are built on “high quality service” and that short-cuts often take you longer.  I hope Vitaly’s ourcomes will dissuade others from believing that if you can’t be “famous” be “infamous”…… What are your thoughts?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Joseph Michelli, Ph.D.
Joseph Michelli, Ph.D., an organizational consultant and the chief experience officer of The Michelli Experience, authored The New Gold Standard: 5 Leadership Principles for Creating a Legendary Customer Experience Courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company and the best-selling The Starbucks Experience: 5 Principles for Turning Ordinary Into Extraordinary.


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