blogs are the new complaint letter

complaining

I know the Smartest Man in the World and his name is Saul Colt. I know he is the Smartest Man in the World because he had a business card that said he was.

Well, that was good enough for me.

I met him about a year ago at a Geek Dinner in Toronto along with Eden Spodek (she of Podcamp Toronto 2008 fame, among her many credits) and we had a very enjoyable time. I follow them both on Twitter and I subscribe to Saul’s blog.

Today Saul had a blog post about a bad experience he had at a movie theatre over the weekend when he went to see Iron Man (which is getting some great buzz). He posted about everything except the name of the movie chain that was responsible (note that) for the problem and dealt with it ineffectually (note that too).

I posted a response as such to the post (though I respect his choice and it is his to make) and noted that blogs are the new complaint letter. Why?

We end users (are we “customers” any more in the digital age?) can spend hours pouring over just the right prose to convey our anger, displeasure and frustration over a problem we encountered from a company and couldn’t properly get resolved. We send it off, throwing our letter in to the mail box or pressing our email “send” key with just the right touch of righteous indignation, knowing we’ll get our desired outcome.

We don’t, usually.

While many companies have a complaint department and some may actually resolve an issue satisfactorily, in my experience many more companies don’t have a complaint or customer service department as much as they have a form letter or pleasant but helpless voice department.

An example. This past Thanksgiving Day, I flew AirTran Airlines to Atlanta…a direct flight from Buffalo. I took the 6:45 a.m. flight so I could get down there to enjoy that day and next few days with my family.

I won’t bore you with the details (certainly AirTran didn’t care) but because they failed to safely maintain the plane I flew, I left Buffalo at 2:00 p.m. and got to my destination at 4:00 p.m. Their response from start to finish was poor, even after I wrote them multiple, spiffy complaint letters. I got a form back. It’s the second time AirTran has screwed me. I avoid that airline whenever possible and flinch when I have to fly them.

There are many schools of thought about outing companies on blogs or complaining about customer service – ranging from effectiveness or usefulness to how it reflects on the blogger (am I now just a big whiner?) Well, if I am seen as a patient man who sometimes gets ticked off on occasion when someone or some organization treats me poorly, I’m OK with that. Otherwise, people haven’t done their due diligence on me

Maybe the company I’m frustrated by could be my customer some day, huh? No they won’t, no matter who the “they” are.

My company has a simple code of conduct that we’ve always operated under but only recently published. If I know from personal experience that a company can’t do what it says it can do, I won’t work on the account. Yes, I have turned down work on such accounts before.

They can screw up their brand all they want but they’re not going to infect my brand (me, my voices, my company) with their poison.

The other side of it is that if we (you, me, whomever) are always complaining on our blog, no one will read the blogs and we will be ignored…by the company, by subscribers etc. That makes sense which is why I don’t complain on blogs a ton. We also become “the boy who cried wolf”.

But if we all don’t step up occasionally (when the situation calls for it…see earlier “notes”), companies – clearly already lazy in their customer service departments – will get even lazier and the downward service spiral will accelerate. Then we will have no one but ourselves to blame.

Please feel free to disagree in the complaint box below 😉

On the upside, let’s not be shy about singing the praises of companies that wow us either!

Thanks for reading.

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4 Responses to “blogs are the new complaint letter”

  1. One of the best “complaint blogs” is Consumerist.com. An excellent read filled with stories and actions that consumers can take.

  2. As usual, I’m late to the party! 🙂

    Thanks for the link Jeff.

    Best always,
    – Peter

  3. Peter,

    Well written and thoughtful comments.

    Be well,
    Bob

  4. Thanks Bob.

    Best always,
    – Peter

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