Social Media: The Modern Day Complaint Department

Posted by Paladin on March 04, 2013

“Take to Twitter” is the new “Take a ticket”

When a United Airlines flight attendant makes you gate check your prized guitar, and breaks it, you can take to YouTube and make a music video of your brokenhearted rage and watch as the United stock falls by ten percent because of it, amounting to a loss of $180 million. When Pretzel Crisps offends you with their “You can never be too thin” campaign, you can blog your thoughts on the irresponsibility of their motto and bring the ad to a halt. When Ann Taylor LOFT posts to their Facebook pictures of a 5’10” model in a pair of cargo pants, and you demand to see them on a “real” body, sit back and enjoy the fashion show of women who work in varying departments of LOFT’s corporate office… All of which are wearing the pants you weren’t sure would look as good on your 5’2” frame, but that you now know will. Social media has power because it demands transparency – and more and more companies are taking note of that, and running with it (or drowning from it).

Get your head out of the sand

According to Forbes, companies can be their own worst enemies: an earlier RightNow study found that of those surveyed, 82% had stopped doing business with a company because of poor customer experience. Social media, and how companies respond to complaints, matters.

New avenues for positive PR

Ignoring negative feedback can severely harm your brand image, but social media can also have the opposite effect, if inspired by a good experience. Reacting in a positive way can create your best brand Evangelists. MINI Cooper, for example, accidently spammed some of their customers with over a hundred emails in one week. Before any complaints had a chance to surface, MINI sent a care package including: chocolate roses, Duck tape, and, of course, Spam. With a clever note and a sincere apology, MINI boosted their positive image without spending millions of dollars on an advertisement.

Go the extra mile

In Jacksonville, Florida, a deployed soldier wanted to have a pizza delivered to his wife from her favorite restaurant on her birthday. They don’t deliver. But this time, they definitely delivered. Mellow Mushroom went the extra mile – they baked the soldier’s wife a heart-shaped pizza and, on their way to deliver the pie, they also picked up flowers and a few balloons. And they didn’t charge the soldier a dime. Facebook helped spread the word of this sweet deed and before long Good Morning America picked up the story. Not bad publicity for a local pizza shop, eh?

With social media acting as the megaphone of the disgruntled customer, or the loudspeaker of the happy patron, it’s more important than ever to make sure someone is monitoring and engaging this medium.

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