The emergence of Web 2.0 technologies (blogs, forums, social networks, has created a public forum for customers to voice their opinions about companies, products and services.
One challenge for organizations is that it is difficult to control what is happening outside their sphere of influence on blogs, forums or social networks.
Dell Hell is just one of these examples when the angry voice of customers has run out of control. The term coined by Jeff Jarvis to describe the horrible service he experienced from Dell Computers, has received a lot of attention, especially since at the time when he posted the number of customers frustrated with Dell’s customer service reach record-breaking heights.
What can a company do about these public complaints that might start an avalanche of negative publicity?
It is necessary to create a platform that gives customers a possibility to complain on the Internet. This should not just be possible in a private way (such as a complaint submission form), but instead in a public way with representatives from this organization working and documenting their efforts to fix the problem.
After the "Dell Hell" fiasco, Dell has established a few quite innovative concepts to deal with customer complaints on the Internet. Dell Community Pulse allows you to state your problem and post your tone (compliment, comment, complaint) together with a message. Take all complaints submitted to Dell globally and the result is a real time thermometer of their customer’s mood.
Complaints dominate the current mood; one reason is that such a website is always biased because of a self-selection of customers who prefer to complain rather than to compliment.
Nevertheless, such a platform creates transparency where an organization has problems, but it is also a way to show that an organization is taking unsatisfied customers serious and is not afraid to show the current state of customer satisfaction.
Even more important is that such a platform attracts people who would otherwise complain on platforms out of Dell’s control. Most customers do not want to harm an organization; they just want to be heard. That is why they write on blogs.
Providing an open, (semi-) transparent channel for your customers can help you to attract customer complaints and at least partially keep negative word-of-mouth in control.
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