Disclaimer: This has been written in my capacity of a consumer.
This is a question that increasingly being debated on Twitter – the platform for opinions – and have been a part to it. Whilst, the conversation have been heated at times, I have always preferred to “move on” (polite way of saying disengage from the conversation), when it becomes too passionate.
One of the chief advocates Girish Mallya believes that the above is definitely the case.
Over the past couple of years, I have had many instances of problems and negligent customer service, where I have had to use my rolodex to get action initiated. I have always used the specific escalation method, however there are times, when it jsut does not work.
It is at such times, that the Social Media comes in helpful. The Tata Episode and Indiatimes are clear examples of where Social Media came to my rescue and helped resolve, though not to complete satisfaction, without taking recourse to law.
The moot question here, is ‘Were there no complaints when there was no Social Media?’ or there are more complaints now. It is my personal opinion that as consumers get savvy thanks to media, internet; they grow more demanding also. On the other hand, brands with their hi decibel communication, comparison keep educating the consumers. So on one hand you have brands that have increased expectations, on the other you have a customer that has turned finicky and demanding. In such an environment, enter social media such as blogging, face book, twitter.
And, woe behold the brand that does not respond to a consumer after engaging them. As an individual it is easiest to vent ire on twitter or facebook; which also escalates quickly.
Should an individual behave responsibly? Definitely yes. But how do you explain this to someone who has spent their hard earned money on a brand, which avoids its responsibilities by disappearing when taken to task.
As a country, customer service and retention are primarily words phrases marketers, companies have started using, applying over the past decade or so. There are definitely some brands who have risen above all these and try to meet consumer expectations consistently, irrespective of the fault finding.
There are bad apples on both sides of the story – Brands are also run by set of individuals, whilst consumers are also individuals. Brands look at the 80:20 ratio to address the most strident/recurring complaints and consumers from experience/herd mentality realise that raising your voice makes a difference.
And it is here that Social Media aka Twitter, Facebook has become a tool of convenience. Yes customers will use whatever channel is easily available to communicate and frankly why should they not? If Brands can use different channels, keep talking about customer engagement etc. then they also have to be ready to take the bad with the good.
Responsibility, proper procedure etc etc. can continue but at the end Individual is a human being and if scorned or avoided will resort to whatever means available or convenient to make himself heard. Call it ‘misuse’ or any other name.