Social Media and Squeaky Wheels

Back in November an incident with a company left me furious and would have cost me hundreds of dollars. But thanks to my use of social media the situation was finally resolved today. Despite my frustration with the situation it was fascinating to see the way social media has given consumers the ability to fight back when they have been wronged.

It started when I realized a small problem with my television picture. After contacting the manufacturer they sent out a repairman and during the service process something went wrong. The tv no longer worked. The repair company and Samsung both refused responsibility for the broken television and that left me with a $1000 paperweight.

Ten years ago I would have had very little recourse. I could have filed a small claims suit in court or complained to the Better Business Bureau but neither of those options were likely to have resolved my problem. The company was not going to accept responsibility and I would have eventually had to swallow my frustration, buy a new tv and settle for badmouthing them to people I know. Back then companies could easily dismiss disgruntled customers because the damage was limited. Even the horror stories to friends would fade from memory after a while.

Fortunately the invention of social media has provided another option. I vented my frustration on Facebook. I vented my frustration here on my blog and then I repeatedly hammered Samsung on Twitter. Instead of griping about my experience to a few acquaintances I was blasting out the facts to people all over the world.

Within about 24 hours a Samsung employee responsible for monitoring Twitter responded to my grievance and she began to rectify the situation. It took about two months to finally get the back ordered parts and fix my television but it took less then 24 hours for social media to get the attention of a giant company that would have just blown me off a few years ago.

Businesses can’t count on getting away with that anymore though. Consider this hilarious video that was posted by a guy who got screwed over by United Airlines:

Nearly 1o million people have watched the video on youtube. It was talked about on blogs and television shows all over the world and the guy became a minor celebrity. United finally took care of his claim but how much bad publicity could they have avoided if they had just done the right thing to begin with?

The growing number of social media have exponentially raised the potential cost of a bad customer service experience to businesses. Successful companies recognize this and are adapting. I look forward to a revival of customer service as they do.

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