Social media is no longer just an option for customer service groups; it's a requirement. If you have any doubt, take a look at the list of sites below, all of which encourage consumers to express their feelings and share complaints about companies and products. Sure, some sites also allow consumers to provide positive reviews or similar write-ups, but the vast majority have been created primarily to give consumers a public place to vent their dissatisfaction and frustration with companies and products. (This is only a partial list of complaint-friendly sites. There are many more dedicated to discussions about specific product categories or particular companies.)
- www.blagger.com A place to provide feedback and comments about companies
- www.buzzillions.com Provides the inside scoop from millions of reviewers
- www.complaints.com Posts and research about consumer complaints
- www.complaintsboard.com Consumer complaints
- http://consumerist.com Highlights the latest scams, rip-offs, hot deals, and freebies
- www.consumersearch.com Product-review editors select the best electronics, appliances, and services by comparing professional and consumer reviews
- www.epinions.com Consumer review platform and source for consumer insights, advice, in-depth product evaluations, and personalized recommendations
- http://gethuman.com Company reviews and customer service ratings
- www.imreportcard.com Catalogs, reviews, and discusses popular Internet marketing-related products, services, personas, or "gurus," as well as business opportunities
- www.measuredup.com Acts as intermediary between consumers and disliked companies
- www.mouthshut.com User reviews of products, places, movies, and more
- www.my3cents.com Consumer reviews, complaints, and more
- www.pissedconsumer.com Consumer product reviews and customer service complaints
- www.planetfeedback.com Complaint "letters" and company responses
- www.reviewcentre.com Community sharing product and service experiences
- www.ripoffreport.com Consumers educating consumers about scams, reviews, complaints, lawsuits, and frauds
- http://sazze.com Reviews from real people
- www.sitejabber.com Reviews and complaints to help protect consumers
- www.topcompanyreviews.org Reviews of hundreds of products and services
- www.topconsumerreviews.com Discusses top products and top consumer reviews
Every public and private organization needs a social-media–based customer service function. This group should be responsible for monitoring the organization's brands and protecting its reputation. It should also be responsible for building and enhancing the company's image by using social media for its intended purpose—communicating with a large group of interested people.
Social media has amazing potential for organizations that use it proactively to get their message out to the public. Marketing and customer service organizations should work together to build a strategy that enables them to use the most appropriate social media channels to build and enhance their company's image. This image should be reflected in every tweet, blog post, or online response provided by the company.
Folks, you can either sit back and take a defensive position or go on the offensive and try to "win" the social media war. You may not like the medium, but it's here to stay, and it's going to play an increasingly important role in the future. It may be hard to justify an investment in a social media customer service function, but if you expand the mission and goal of this group by working jointly with marketing, it suddenly seems a lot more compelling.
Donna Fluss (firstname.lastname@example.org) is founder and president of DMG Consulting, a leading provider of contact center and analytics research, market analysis, and consulting.