AOL Internal Memos, After Vinny’s Call

A disgruntled employee mailed in a triptych of AOL internal emails that followed the cancellation call heard round the world, finally launching the call’s recorder, Vincent, onto The Today Show, CNBC, CNN and even generated a comic strip, a Playboy parody video, and finally, our “Where is he now?” interview.

In these AOL company documents we obtained, Scott Falconer, EVP of Member Services, transmits a rah-rah to the troops, expresses concern and appreciation for their work, and reminds them to renew their dedication to Servicing the Member.

Underneath the gloppy gloo of corporate newspeak lurks an inconvenient truth: retention consultants need to keep a 60% saves rate to keep their job.

Gotta love Scott’s touting of their “third party verification” as an “industry-first initiative.” Yes, those would be the same Watchmen AOL had to hire when Spitzer went after the ISP for their anti-consumer retention policies last year.

There’s also a tone in the memos that instead of an unmitigated PR disaster, AOL suffered a death of family member. Given the circumstances, that’s not necessarily an inappropriate turn to take.

Source documents, after the jump…


Member Services,

Recently, some AOL Member Service calls were posted on the Internet that do not reflect our serious commitment to Member Advocacy. On any interaction, you should assume that it could be posted on the web.

You have tough goals, and no doubt it can be difficult to deal with a member calling very frustrated with some aspect of their service. But we must remember the importance of creating a good member experience by being straightforward, helpful, respectful, friendly, and positive during every interaction. Imagine yourself on the other end of the phone, how would you want to be treated? Being an advocate, on behalf of members, strengthens the very foundation of what AOL stands for. AOL is our members.

In every member contact, I need you to step into your Trusted Advisor role and respond to our members in a manner that shows we are on their side. I need you to really hear what our members are saying, actively listen to them as you work to meet their needs, establishing a sense of trust and mutual respect.

I am proud to be a part of this tremendous team and know it’s your personal mission to watch over our members. Please continue to focus on building a strong business – a business with member advocacy at its core.

Sincerely,

Scott Falconer
EVP, Member Services


As follow-up to the message I wrote you on Monday, June 19, I cannot stress enough the importance of maintaining our unwavering standards of ethical and effective service during every member interaction.

The aftermath of the unfortunate, disappointing and unacceptable behavior of one of our former colleagues ha been severe. Following the posting of the recorded call on the Internet, various television and print media have featured the story, including a lengthy interview this morning with the former AOL member on NBC’s Today show and on CNBC, casting a very negative impression of AOL and the great work all of us in Member Services do on behalf of our members every day.

While fulfilling our Member Advocacy Commitment (the “F” in FOCUS) is Member Services’ number one goal for 2006, there is no time like the present to reiterate the commitment each of us has pledged to uphold on behalf of our valued members:

As the voice of AOL, I promise to conduct myself with integrity at all times, provide excellent service, and ensure a world-class member experience on every call or interaction.

The foundation of AOL is our members. The foundation of our relationship with our members is Member Advocacy. By being uncompromising in our adherence to our standards of behavior, we will maintain a relationship of trust with our members – trust that we are on their side and will provide them with a high quality customer experience. As you can see, withholding our highest level of service from even one member is all it takes to damage the trust and credibility you have worked so hard to earn.

With all of the safeguards we have in place:
*recording and monitoring of member interactions
*our Keep it Real policy, which details our standards of professionalism and ethical behavior
* and Third Party Verification, an industry-first initiative to guarantee quality in every single retention call Any attempt to circumvent our member promise is a violation of our practices, and we maintain a zero tolerance policy for non-compliance.

Please use this unfortunate customer interaction as a reminder that we must maintain our standards of conduct at all times, maintain the goodwill of AOL, and most of all, that we must keep our promise to Fulfill our Member Advocacy Commitment!

Regards,

Scott Falconer
EVP, Member Services


Dear Member Services Colleagues,

We have had a tough week here at Member Services. Although I am sitting far away from you here in Dulles, I am listening to your member interactions and I sincerely admire your response following the recent recorded call posted on the Internet. You are responding to member after member with even more consideration, respect and patience than before.

I hear many of you experiencing more challenges that you usually face with promises of recorded phone calls and the such. Amid all of this, you continue to demonstrate that respect and consideration are the rule, not the exception – all the while continuing to be the bedrock of our business.

As you continue upholding our commitment to Member Advocacy, I want you to know if you feel overwhelmed, please reach out to your leadership team for help. We’re here for you as you are tirelessly here for our Members.

Before we head into the weekend, I want to take a moment to sincerely thank you. I want each of you to know, your commitment and faithfulness to our Members has not gone unnoticed.

Sincerely,

Scott Falconer
EVP Member Services


If you like this entry, be sure to check out another internal document “AOL Updates Retention “Offer Matrix

Comments

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  1. mariser says:

    Trusted Advisor(tm) role. that, right there, almost made me sick. I kept on reading to find this jewel: “[blahblahblah] the “F” in FOCUS”.
    so the F in FOCUS stands for?

    I think I have a few guesses…

  2. Lemurs says:

    FOCUS: F**k Our Customers Until Sued

  3. Hee hee, you said ‘servicing the Member’.

  4. ModerateSnark says:

    Listen, you stupid employees: Just uphold our commitment to Member Advocacy by telling them what a horrible, regretable mistake they would be making if they cancel, and everyone you talk to will realize they would be crazy to go through with it! Just insist, “I’m trying to help you here.” 60% retention should be easy! If I felt like answering phones myself, could keep 100%! –Sincerely, Scott

  5. BarelyFitz says:

    We’re working toward 100% Member satisfaction.

    But, until that day, you will be the falcon.. and I shall remain..

    THE FALCONER!

  6. Davey G. says:

    Oh Lord. Having worked in retail and having had a regrettable number of relationships with women who’ve worked in retail for big companies, the shame of all of it is even as this sort of bullshit as written as corporate-speak, it begins to infuse the soul of both the speaker and the listener. “Keep it Real?” WTF? Sometimes I think all of these assholes should simply be taken out and shot. Middle-management is the scourge of America. Scratch that. Middle-managers who rise to the top are the scourge of America. Witness our current situation in Washington.

  7. Anonymous says:

    This “valuable team”, “serious commitment” baby talk is something that even Dilbert’s Pointy-headed Boss would gag at. Do these people READ what they’re SAYING? No wonder tech support is demoralized! There is not a single person in the United States who would believe one word of this happy horseshit.

    Mr. Falconer must think his employees are a bunch of lobotomized drones, to tap out meaningless messages to them like this. When he comes home from work every night and bangs his trophy wife, does he call her his “valuable team member” too?

  8. AyeRoxor says:

    “While fulfilling our Member Advocacy Commitment (the “F” in FOCUS) is Member Services’ number one goal for 2006 [...]“

    This says to me that the F is “Fulfilling”. Just saying…

  9. AyeRoxor says:

    Anonymous, you have no idea how stupid most tech support people are. No, really. You may think you do, but you don’t. I spent age 18 to 21 working for the helpdesk for a Fortune 10 accounting firm. While being talked down to was annoying, I soon realized it really was neccesary to reach the lowest common denominator of techs. These people are age 30-50, burned out or fired from whatever job, and trying to eke out a living telling people how to run MS Word for 8 back-whipped ours a day. They get in a mindset that this mollycoddling is really soothing… It’s really a bizarre scene, and I’ve been out of it for a healthy 7 years now, but I’ll never forget it.