Social Media and Customer Complaints


Everyone has seen the vents and rants on Facebook and Twitter but do customers really expect companies to respond? Are companies using these venues to answer complaints? eMarketer's recent articles When Consumers Tweet Complaints, Should Brands Respond? and How well Do Companies Respond to Complaints? look at the bigger picture of social media and marketing and how complaints online are being addressed or not. "According to customer experience research company Maritz Research, nearly half of consumers who tweeted a complaint directed toward a brand expected the company to respond—or at least to read their tweet. However, only a third of those consumers received a tweeted response from the mentioned brand." Interestingly, older customers 55+ expect a company to address their online complaints everytime. Younger customers and those more active on Twitter believed that companies would not respond. It seems they have they have lowered their expectations based on experience.

Complaint Response Rate

Companies should be paying more attention to their social media outlets and answering questions and complaints more often. "Consumers are overwhelmingly positive when brands take the time to actually respond to them on Twitter. The Maritz study indicates that 86% of Twitter complainers would have liked or loved to hear from the company regarding their complaints—and out of those who heard back, 75% were satisfied with the company’s response."

Twitter Complaint Satisfaction

Obviously, complaints can help the company improve service but companies are also discovering that participating in this type of  online conversation can help build relationships with customers. For instance Virgin Airlines tries to respond to every question or complaint tweet @VirginAmerica. Abby Lunardini, vice president of corporate communications, told eMarketer in a September 26, 2011, interview that customers were surprised to learn that someone in the airline industry was listening and responding to the online chatter and she believes that the engagement is improving service and leading to customer loyalty with more customers choosing to fly Virgin Airlines again.

Business Research Meets…Purses?

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While the bizologie authors all exhibit a weakness for Coach handbags, this entry is not a game of  guess your clients’ income by who’s not wearing a fake.  Recently I had an excellent interaction in a Coach boutique which I visited to exchange a bag, and the sales associates referenced an online consumer forum multiple times during my time there, e.g. “Oh I think the talked about this color on The Purse Forum.  They’re major enthusiasts on The Purse Forum.  They’re way ahead of the game on The Purse Forum”.  This intrigued me, so the next day I visited TPF and found a market research gold mine. Now when most people use the term gold mine, they mean “everything I wanted in one spot.”  That’s more likely the other gold analogy, the one involving pots and rainbows.  TPF, in terms of business research, comes across as a literal gold mine, with a lot of nonrelevant (to business researchers that is) information to be found throughout, and the occasional vein of free-focus-group-qualitative-information-gold.  These are serious Coach connoisseurs who are not only giving impromptu product reviews, but also candidly answering topics like:  “Do you no longer like Coach?  If, so, then why?”  (Answer: Lots of them move on to higher price point brands like Hermes or LV).  Or, “For those who own more than a handful of Coach bags, why do you buy?  (Answer: Thrill of the hunt; they often re-sell their stash on ebay and purchase their new must have).

Obviously one could create an account, insinuate themselves into the forum’s culture, and ask incognito questions.  And obviously the Coach employees are monitoring TPF, which begs the question of precisely who starts some of these more probing threads.  Hence TPF (which also discusses scads of other handbag brands and other luxury goods) and other comparable consumer forums are definitely something to consider for people doing qualitative-type business research, especially for the aforementioned luxury/consumer goods.  So long as the researcher is respectful of that community’s enthusiasm and expertise, they might find themselves a gold nugget or two.

Social Currency: More than just buzz


We have looked at how companies can monetize their social media with Social Commerce and we've introduced you to Famecount where you can find the popularity of brands, now with help from Vivald-iPartners  we examine how it all fits together to create Social Currency. The report Social Currency: Why brands need to build and nurture social currency explains that "today, one of the most important strengths of a brand is its social currency, the extent to which people share the brand or information about the brand with others as part of their everyday social lives." Social of media has changed how brands are built. "Social media sites are actively used today by major brands to strengthen customer service, introduce or co-create new products and entertain people." A high social currency commands a price premium and creates brand loyalty, but it takes more than just buzz. "Companies need to learn how to make their brands more social, and how to interact in new ways with their customers.

The most interesting part of the paper explains that although there are 6 components of social currency (affiliation, conversation, utility, advocacy, information and identity), brands don't need high scores in all 6 to have a high currency. Different categories of products have different needs. Categories like fast food and beer seem to be less dependent on providing a strong sense of community, whereas airlines and IT rely on their user-base to exchange news, hints, and other information.

GrowthPanel is a Good Thing


While free fashion advice from your geriatric aunt would likely be unwelcome, free business advice from professionals with decades of experience in leading SMBs/SMEs would likely be met with open arms.  Enter, a “web-based marketing platform that blends marketing content with project management for intelligent marketing management.” I give them major kudos for giving away a significant host of free learning materials and tools to potential customers.  You can download their Strategic Marketing Process ebook at no charge, plus their Marketing Exercises, spanning over two dozen functions that any business should be doing well, e.g. search engine optimization, developing brand architecture, etc.  (Full disclosure: I did not discover GrowthPanel myself.  Dr. Bailey at UT’s School of Information assigned the Develop Your Media Kit during a graduate Administration course I took from her.)

One thing’s certain- GrowthPanel loves lists.  Bulleted overviews, check lists, short answer lists, these exercises are broken into readily comprehended and tackle-able segments that will have a working group thinking without being overwhelmed.  The resultant material generated from the exercises can be applied by almost any institution, commercial or non-profit, for real world self-evaluation and use.

What's in a Name?

Brand Names

Ever wonder how some of your favorite companies and brands get their names? Strategic Name Development, a brand naming company, does just that. They employ a team of linguists from all over the world to assist companies with naming products or even changing the name of their company. According to the SND web page, about 1900 companies change their name every year. So what makes a good product/company name? Strategic Name Development says good names should roll off the tongue. They should be short,  pronounceable and "harmoniously balanced with vowels and consonants alternating evenly throughout." Some examples they give for harmonious, balanced brand names include Amazon, Toyota, Coca-Cola, Lexus and Panera.

Strategic Name Development also has a great monthly publication called "This Month in Branding". Here are just a few of the interesting facts I found:

  • The Today Show debuted in 1952. Its proposed name was "The Rise and Shine Revue."
  • Monopoly was invented in 1935 after a redesign of a game called "The Landlord's Game."
  • The application for the trademark for Milk Duds was filed in 1983. Its name is derived from the large amount of milk in the product and the failure to produce a perfectly round shape.
  • Yahoo! was incorporated in 1995. Yahoo was first used in the book Gulliver's Travels for a person who is repulsive in appearance and barely human. The founders of Yahoo!, David Filo and Jerry Yang, jokingly considered themselves yahoos.
  • People magazine's first issue debuted in 1974. Its name was borrowed from the popular People page in Time magazine.
  • The Hershey's Take5 candy bar brand name was first used in 1966. Named for its five ingredients: milk chocolate, peanuts, caramel, peanut butter and pretzels, it also capitalizes on the colloquial expression "Take 5" for a 5 minute break.
  • On April 1st in 1976, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne formed Apple. The name was inspired from Steve Jobs' former job at an apple orchard.
  • Eggo was first used as a brand name for frozen waffles in 1935 on April 27th. It was originally named Froffles, a portmanteau of frozen waffles, however, people started referring to them as Eggos for their eggy taste. In 1955, the company officially adopted their nickname.

Catchword Branding is another product/company naming firm. They give some helpful naming tips in the video below:

Itty Bitty Bit of Branding

Favicon Sample

For my first contribution to this blog, I figured it would be fitting to start small.  Really small.  16x16 pixels to be precise.  The favicon, or bookmark icon has become a somewhat ubiquitous visual moniker for that we rely on and appreciate when browsing through multiple open webpage tabs or a long bookmark lists.   A few examples are the favicons for Wired Magazine website, the Amazon website, this bizologie blog, and Google Calendars (which features the date). I say somewhat ubiquitous though because while many established institutions, especially those with popular recognizable brands have been using favicons for some time, small businesses sometimes overlook this opportunity to display their brand image.  In a deeply sweeping and precise scientific survey, I did a Google search for the words: Austin coffee, and opened 10 pages from the first Google results page.  Four of the cafes had a favicon and six of the cafes did not.  In a second search for the words: San Diego pet boarding, only two of the 10 boarding centers from the first results page sported favicons.

How does a small business go about remedying this?  Visit an icon generator page like this one from Project Fondue.  Upload an image or logo, or use their editor to create one from scratch, download the finished product, and use a website editor to embed the code.

As Harvey S. Firestone, founder of the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company, said:  “Success is the sum of details."