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The mighty digital pen

Posted by Michael Bloch in ecommerce (Wednesday July 9, 2008 )

Large companies are now employing people specifically to watch for complaints that appear on blogs and social networks. They are learning that a single disgruntled consumer has enough power to do a great deal of damage to their brand.

In this article on, it gives the example of a Comcast customer who had a gripe about his television reception which he posted to Twitter. Within a few minutes, a Comcast representative on Twitter contacted him and arranged to have a tech to his house within 24 hours to fix the problem.

It’s great customer service, but it is a double edged sword. If you’ve been involved with online business for any length of time, you no doubt have struck customers who are somewhat.. uh.. challenged and will squawk about issues that are actually of the “PEBCAK” type; i.e. Problem Exists Between Chair And Keyboard. They jump up and down and make all sorts of threats, smearing your name wherever they can. These are the folks who believe in that horrible myth that the customer is always right. I firmly believe that companies who also tout that old furphy should be prosecuted for crimes against humanity :).

However, other disgruntled customers may have a valid complaint that gets lost in your system or not suitably addressed and out of pure frustration, they start posting about it on their blogs, on other blogs, forums etc. This is not only unfortunate on the human side of things, but it’s terrible for your business.

If the posting is credible (regardless of whether it’s right or wrong), it *will* cost your business; particularly if the posting ranks highly on search engines for searches on your company name. Ignoring it really isn’t an option, but handled badly, it can spark off what’s known as the Streisand Effect and make matters even worse; so apply some of the principles of dealing with aggressive clients.

While small companies can’t afford to have dedicated personnel to scour the web for negative feedback, I’ve made mention before of an excellent free tool you can use to help monitor what people are saying – Serph aggregates data from blog search engines, social media, news sites and social bookmarking websites. It only takes a minute to check what’s being said about you each day and early intervention could save you a ton of grief.


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