Bloggers & Customer Service: Do blog complaints make a difference?
"Conventional" social media wisdom would have it that companies need to pay attention to the blogosphere, or risk their brands. For proof, out trots the example of Jeff Jarvis and Dell Hell. Jarvis' complaints about Dell customer service percolated up to mainstream media and are oft-cited as the impetus behind Dell's *big* move into social media about a year ago.
Now, you may sense a certain cynical undertone in the above paragraph, and you would be right. While I absolutely believe that companies should be listening to what bloggers -- their customers -- say, I am regularly provided with proof that either companies aren't listening or they are, and have no bloody idea what to say, or how to say it, when faced with blogosphere complaints, or compliments, about products and services.
My most recent proof:
Ike Pigott has been tracking the response, or lack thereof, to a post on his blog complimenting Blockbuster on its customer service. He also divined that Canon saw, but did not respond to positive comments about its products.
While I haven't made quite such a science of it, I have written about customer service on this blog on more than one occasion. Most recently about AAA's piss-poor performance with my flat tire before Christmas. Any word from AAA? Nope. And I've also mentioned my general, and unexepected, pleasure with Verizon's support of its cellular customers. On every occasion that I've had to call, I've been treated well. Most recently by a lovely young lady named Amy who offered a credit on something that had gone wrong before I asked. Any response from Verizon? Nope.
Not to mention my friend Mary Schmidt, whose interactions with American Airlines prove without a shadow of a doubt that the airline just doesn't get it.
This is by far a scientific survey, which is why I am so pleased that the Society for New Communications Research is working with corporate partner Nuance to understand the extent to which bloggers think their opinions are, or are not, impacting companies. Please take the survey and let us know whether you think Corporate America is listening. SNCR is offering a special discounted registration to New Comm Forum in April for those that complete the survey. Direct link to survey here.
And that, my friends, is well worth it. There's a great roster of speakers and opportunities to network with other communicators at New Comm Forum. I'm moderating the luncheon keynote on the first day, a panel of conference alumni coming back to tell how they applied what they learned at the conference at their organizations. More on that next week.
Client News: Maxwell Street Documentary is doing a T-shirt giveaway at the blog Notes of the Urban Blues. It is a very cool shirt. Just tell us about your favorite Blues artist and you can be entered to win.
And please check out the new podcast Business Forward, strategic advice for small and medium businesses, that I am producing for client GuideMark.
Tags: customer service, American Airlines, AAA, Blockbuster, SNCR, New Comm Forum, Nuance
Posted @ 6:02PM in Blogger relations, Blogging, Customers, Marketing, PR, Social media
Susan -- you make very good points. Only thing I might add is a perspective on the operative "tipping point" where companies see the value/danger. And that's the point where the posts show up on page one of organic searches.
My guess is that compliments will be ultimately left alone, as one *could* make the case you're better off leaving them as pure, unadulterated third-party endorsements. Rants like Jarvis' are hard to ignore when they hit the top-of-browser space on Google.
At the very least, we'll know if certain companies are ignoring the most basic step of reputation-monitoring: Ego Surfing.
I imagine you are right about the tipping point, at least to some degree. I wonder how we might go about studying something like that.
On the compliments, it just seems like wasted opportunity to reach out to a happy customer, perhaps find out more about what she needs. Which might encourage her to write again.
My experience with AA is - sadly - not unusual, as evidenced by a Google search for - for example - "American Airlines Problems" Yet, they continue to bombard me with cheery emails about special deals. Hmmm..."special" would be if you really cared about me as a customer. At least I didn't die on one of their flights.
Oh - and on that Google search re problems? My blog posts are #2 and #3.
That's why I loved it when meeting with a new client the other day - he is already (in start-up mode) closely monitoring what people are saying about their product and determining how best to respond.
Your readers might want to try www.Measuredup.com a leading and interactive customer service review website where people share reviews with other users and with companies. Companies that are involved with and value customer service read Measuredup to keep up on what people are saying and to be able to improve customer service.
It is free and easy to use.
I’ve been doing research on blog posts relating to customer service and stumbled across yours in the process, hence this very belated response.
The debate on whether or not to blog about bad service in the hope that a company may respond, continues to rage in South Africa where the ‘blogosphere’ is tight knit and surprisingly influential for such an embryonic community. Being a rather progressive country (developing world set backs really do inspire innovation and foster entrepreneurial spirit), consumers are realising the potential of lodging complaints online in order to save time and the frustration of dealing with inefficient customer care call centres.
In light of this, http://www.getclosure.co.za/ (the company I work for) has created an online complaints management service that allows consumers to discreetly lodge their complaints online. Their aim is to facilitate complaint resolution by connecting the consumer and the supplier with one another in order to resolve the complaint and avoid negative publicity on behalf of the supplier. In other words, we offer the supplier the opportunity to make good prior to being named and shamed.
We have had a surprising number of companies actively using our service and the consumers, for whom the service is free of charge, have rated us as good or excellent 90% of the time. Not only does getclosure! track the complaint on behalf of both parties, but is also offers the consumer alternative remedies should the supplier choose not to respond.
As far as we know, this has not been done before however we are eager to hear from the industry. Our blog http://www.getclosure.co.za/ has been created for this very reason and we hope to expand our service to a global platform in the near future.
How is a company supposed to monitor the unlimited number of blogs that folks atart on the spur of the moment when they are p*ssed off at service? A direct complaint should be addressed directly by a company but when something (good or bad) appears on the web on some site that may be valid or not, how can and why should a company have to follow these?
Rob -- There are a number of monitoring tools available to companies plus of course the simple and free things like Google Alerts and Technorati searches. Why should a company do it? Because it is an additional touch point with the customer, and why wouldn't we want that?
Remember: people say nice things too. Companies are missing on both.