In the old days, unhappy customers would moan to their friends about the bad service they’d received. They might tell half a dozen or so people. That’s not great for business, but at least it’s contained. These days, those unhappy customers go on the Internet and blog about it. Or they enter their comments on a consumer forum read by hundreds, or maybe thousands.
My colleague Rob McLuhan has written about what happened when angry blogger Jeff Jarvis wrote about his bad experience with Dell, and how Dell responded by setting up its ideastorm site where users can post suggestions for improvements to Dell’s products and services.
Other companies are also becoming more proactive. Brendan Cooper recently wrote a blog about his problems in getting a Virgin Media broadband connection in his new house. Shortly afterwards, Alex Brown, Virgin Media’s senior internet product manager, popped up in the Comments section of his blog offering help. When journalist Sally Whittle posted a blog entry about Cooper’s experience, a commenter wrote:
“The same thing happened to me with Virgin Media when I wrote about them on my own blog - Alex has a Google Alert set up for his company’s name, which I reckon is a pretty good idea. I had just written a rant, but I ended up being pretty impressed by their handling of the whole thing.”
It’s a great example of how social media can be made to work in your business’s favour. Setting up a Google Alert (or monitoring Twitter) for mentions of your company name is a smart way of improving your customer reputation and nipping bad publicity in the bud. The really smart companies, of course, will take the negative comments on board and improve their customer service.