The Blogosphere and Customer Service

A friend and colleague of mine sent this link to me last night. Besides have a word/acronym in the title that I have honestly never heard of before (with an equally interesting meaning), the post is fairly interesting. It talks about how customers and companies now react to poor customer service.

Think about it – what did customers do 50 years ago? They certainly couldn’t write into Service Untitled or Consumerist and complain (I wasn’t alive and I don’t believe Consumerist was even in the works). They couldn’t record the call and post it on YouTube. They couldn’t write a blog post about it or create a web site about it. Access to the general public’s eyes and ears was far more limited 50, 30, and even 15 years ago.

Today, individuals can do so much and get so much attention it is amazing. Perhaps the easiest and most accessible to people are blogs. Anyone can start a blog – it takes about 30 seconds at WordPress.com or Blogger.com and boom, they have a blog. The barrier to entry is zero. In fairness to mainstream media, it is very hard to promote a blog, but some do get well known. If you get a post mentioned on digg, boom your blog is on the map. Here is the key quote from the article:

“One way to make things better: Monitor online conversations about your brand and proactively address problems that come up. Someone motivated enough to post their conversation with a customer service rep on a blog, message board or social network probably isn’t doing it just to cause trouble. They’re likely doing it because they believe they’re being treated unfairly.”

So why don’t more companies monitor the blogosphere and respond to complaints? Things shouldn’t have to be on ABC News to get attention from PR people or companies. Plus, companies don’t even have to hire anyone to do it. You can subscribe to tags on Technorati, use Google Alerts, and anyone of the other hundreds of services out there. You’ll be kept in the loop and know what people are saying about your company.

Take two companies I talk about as an example – Headsets.com and HP. The companies are on completely different scales. Though Headsets.com is larger than a vast majority of Internet businesses, they are not HP in terms of sales or profits. Mike Faith, the CEO of Headsets.com uses Google Alerts to stay in the loop about Headsets.com. This doesn’t cost him anything and pays off in a variety of ways (he discovered Service Untitled, right?).

HP does the same thing, but on a larger scale. I would imagine they use some sort of technology to monitor the blogs and the Internet for mentions of their company. Plus, HP has an entire PR team. They have employees who are responsible for monitoring the company’s brand image and what is said about it. When I was talking to Janice Liu, one of their PR people was on the phone and both of them encouraged me to let them know if I received any complaints about HP’s service or products. They both care about the company and the customers, which is excellent.

Simply put, not monitoring the Internet, particularly blogs and search engines for mentions about your company is ignorant. If you care about your company, you care about your brand. Every time someone posts something bad about your company that is not responded to, your brand goes is negatively affected.

If your brand is giant (like HP) and the posting does not reach many people (like a small blog on Blogger), it won’t do much damage. If that happens a thousand times, it adds up. If one of those posts gets on the frontpage of digg, it makes a bigger impact. If that post remains one of digg’s most popular stories, chances are someone from a mainstream news source has already or will discover it. If the story makes it onto ABC News, it’ll make it to NBC News, then it may make it to Time. See what can happen?

The point is, that now, it is both easier for you to post your dissatisfaction with a company or a product as well as for the company to respond to, and hopefully resolve your issue. Since the customers will keep doing so, the companies need to catch up.

3 Responses to “The Blogosphere and Customer Service”

  1. Meikah said:

    Oct 19, 06 at 12:15 am

    Very true, Doug! 😀

  2. Service Untitled » The Bloggers Are Out To Get You - customer service and customer service experience blog said:

    Nov 14, 06 at 4:38 pm

    […] Writing about bloggers‘ effect on customer service is fun. Reading about it is even more fun. Lots of links in those two sentences. The first sentence contains links to where I have talked about bloggers’ effect on customer service or more specifically, issue resolution. The second sentence are links to posts about Tom’s experience with The Geek Squad. […]

  3. Alberta Williams said:

    Mar 09, 07 at 8:21 pm

    Thank for making this valuable information available to the public.