Social Media Makes It Too Easy to Complain? Boo-Hoo!

A recent article in the NY Times titled Consumer Complaints Made Easy. Maybe Too Easy. discusses a company called Gripe, where customers can post complaints or kudos about companies they’ve dealt with, and these comments are posted to the customer’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, as well as to the company in question’s service department.

Personally, I think this is an awesome idea, and frankly, so should businesses.  I do think Gripe’s company name is a bit of a misnomer, as it does allow consumers to praise a business’ positive service delivery as easily as it allows for complaints.  And while some businesses still cling to the idea that their reputation is (or should be) one of complete customer satisfaction and perfection, c’mon, let’s add a dose of reality here, shall we?

No business is perfect.  No business magnificently serves all their customers, all of the time.  Fact.  But along with that fact, it should be mentioned that many studies (including one by Technical Assistance Research Programs) show that customers who have had a problem resolved successfully and amicably tend to be more loyal than customers who have never experienced a problem with a particular business.

So, Gripe lets customers air their complaints in a public forum, but it also allows businesses to resolve those complaints in public, too.  I see this as a big boost for the concept of customer service, in general.  For customers AND for businesses.  Readers of this space know that we are complete advocates of customer rights, but we love to see businesses step up their service game and shine.  It’s all good, as the young people say.

What I don’t get is the article’s author wondering if Gripe makes it TOO EASY for consumers to complain!  He seems to indicate that there should be some kind of effort in persistence  for complaining customers in order to have their complaint heard.  I’m thinking that he fears such a forum will make it too easy for wackos to air their real or imagined slights to the world, thus creating “a din of complaints.”  Whereas, I feel that every customer, and every complaint, deserves to be heard, and every business that cares about its customers and its reputation should be eager to hear, and resolve, such complaints.  In this way, a business’ service delivery and remedies can actually become a vehicle for positive marketing.  Yes, it does raise the bar for service departments across the globe, but given the overall decline in service worldwide, this is not a bad thing.

So businesses, dry your eyes, blow your nose, hike up your bloomers, and get serious about your customers on social media!

— Chuck Dennis

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