Friday, October 22, 2010

Vonage Customer Service Fail - The Joseph Jaffe Trainwreck; UPDATE: Resolved

You know the Golden Rule: "Treat others the way you would want them to treat you."

We've heard it since childhood and it still makes sense.

Especially if you deal with customers -- you know, those people who your salary?

In fact, since the advent of digital technology, which lets us record nightmarish calls with customer service or take videos of sleeping repairmen ... you would think every business that wants to stay in business would have taken notice.

Every smart business in 2010 should have a sentence in their Employee Handbook that reads: Every conversation you have with a customer may be recorded for defaming purposes.

But somebody forgot to tell Vonage.

Take a look at the following Tweetstream from Joseph Jaffe (@jaffejuice), which I've been following for the past hour or so ...

It's the latest textbook example of customer service gone wrong, thanks to dual-use technology in the hands of customers. By dual use I mean that, like sickles or hammers, Twitter can be used for peaceful purposes or as a weapon of war.

And Joseph Jaffe, as you can see above, is on the warpath. Very publicly.

Look. It is never a best practice to threaten a customer ("We will have to block you") as Melissa, the soon-to-be-former customer service agent, is quoted as saying above.

But it's a worst practice to treat customers rudely now, when that conversation is instantly made public to millions of people, as it is on Twitter.

So here's a new Golden Rule of Customer Service, submitted for your approval (and Vonage's education):

"Treat others the way you would want them to treat you ... so that you won't mind if they share it with the planet."

UPDATE: There is a happy ending to this story. Within the hour, Vonage called Jaffe to fix things. Good catch by Vonage! I hope Melissa gets to keep her job ...

(Kevin M. Donlin is author of Guaranteed Marketing for Service Business Owners.)


  1. I saw the whole thing.

    "Treat others the way you would want them to treat you."

    Obviously Mr. Jaffe Juice guy wasn't doing that to Jessica, lest she wouldn't have asked him to stop being disrespectful.

    I also fail to see where Vonage treated Mr. Jaffe in a disrespectful manner in their Twitter replies. And from the looks of it, I can't tell that Melissa treated him in a disrespectful way, other than threatening to not speak to him further given whatever it was he was saying to her.

    I'd love to hear the replay.

    I looked up this Jaffe guy and he's one of those self-profossed social media guru Pulver wannabe's. Appears to be very loud-mouthed, very self-centered, and parading around like he's so special because of his 186 Youtube subscribers. What a clown, really.

    And yes, he went on the warpath on Twitter, threatening the Vonage handle the entire time. Screaming loudly. Just all quite childish if you ask me. Guess he's just treating others how he wants to be treated... in hopes he can go make a big stink in social media land where he thinks he's some kind of king.

    Sure, be as angry as you want, been there done that, lol. But don't disrespect folks that are just doing their job.

    Disclosure: Innocent onlooker, no affiliation with Vonage whatsoever. Was just seaching for tweets on their service and came across this interesting exchange.

  2. This was quite stunning. I gave them as much leeway, advance notice and opportunity to solve this in a private forum.

    I was shocked by the response.

    Look - I hope she gets to keep her job as well. Obviously Twitter isn't for her. Or maybe it is in terms of hiding behind 140 chars or less. But when we spoke on the phone, she was out of her comfort zone...and league....and should have escalated this. Quickly.

    In "Flip the Funnel", I clearly outline why CSA's should Googling their customers. In this case, they would have easily seen that I was a fairly vocal and "influential" customer.

    Ultimately, ignorance is not an excuse when all this information is publicly available and at their fingertips.

  3. @anonymous - Appreciate your point of view but with respect, you're off base here. Way off base.

    I actually looked to solve this privately without making noise.

    And when Melissa called me on the phone, let's just say it wasn't a great experience.

    Disrespect and being upset are two completely different things. Customers have a right to be upset and at times, they have a right to shout if they're REALLY upset. They don't have a right to be disrespectful and I don't believe I was that.

    Vonage put my wife through hell for 1 year. Charged us over that year for a service we never installed. Never initiated. Never used. Wanted to charge us $164 to cancel this service.

    Ultimately I think it's you who's disrespecting me and if you continue to do so, I'll have to block you. (That's a joke if you have a sense of humor)