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Consumer vigilantes want justice from your business

We’ve all had the experience of feeling oh-so-small at the hands of a large company. Sometimes that happens during the sales process, but at least then we have the option of walking away. When it really stings is after we’ve purchased a product or service. That feeling of powerlessness—that they’ve really got you—is immensely frustrating to most people. But now people have ways to fight back. This was all brought to mind again when my wife told me about how she spent her day yesterday.


We’ve owned Quicken for our personal finances for 10 years, but for most of that time we were using Quicken ’97 (I think) because it did what we want. This year, my wife (who does all the home finances) decided that she wanted our checking and credit card accounts linked up to Quicken, so we upgraded to Quicken 2008. She’s been struggling to make that feature work ever since.
Now, my experience with Intuit is that they are a smart company that spends more time on customers experience than most companies I know. So I was shocked when Linda told me how bad her customer service experiences have been. She was so annoyed by it that she wrote a couple of blog posts about it, one for yesterday’s Quicken disaster and another one for today’s Quicken service disappointment. Why does a smart company like Intuit spend so much to design their software but cheap out on customers service?
I wish that these incidents were more isolated, but all of us run into them every day. The part that I’ve never understood is how each of us can relate to those poor customer experiences, because we’ve undergone them, but still dish them out when we are on the job. Or stand idly by while others dish them out on our behalf. We rationalize the reasons we behave this way, but we still do it.
More and more, however, customers are firing back, whether it’s a blog entry like Linda’s, message board complaints, or ratings and reviews. Or something bigger.
Comcast has been bedeviled by angry consumers the last couple of years, with everything from the sleeping customer service technician video to a site called Comcast Must Die. But they’ve started to change. In fact, Comcast Must Die just announced that Comcast is listening to them enough that they are branching out to handle complaints against other companies. So, customer vigilantes demanded changes from Comcast, got them, and are now moving on to right other wrongs.
What about your company? Does your customer service team inspire loyalty or outrage? Are you listening to what your customers are saying and responding? Or are you simply following procedures or saying that things are not your job? One thing that I know is that no customer ever got excited by service that merely followed the procedures.

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in digital marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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