Poor customer service can go viral

February 21, 2012 by  

When Rob Shields recently experienced a delay in a flight to Minneapolis, he was so frustrated that he posted his displeasure on Twitter.

The posting prompted Delta Air Lines to reply with an apology for the flight delay, which occurred on a cloudless day, and offered to arrange another flight.

Shields said he also dined at a Mexican restaurant recently that was messy. So he tweeted that it was his “worst chipotle experience to date”. It only took seconds for the company to be alerted to the negative comment. It responded with an apology and later, coupons for a free meal.

With social media providing lightening quick responses to poor customer service and interactive websites a highly public platform for complaints, print companies must respond to and even prevent customer complaints before they go viral.

Even the Better Business Bureau will begin posting customer complains, in their entirety, online – a new venture for them.

Paul Ziman, a Twin Cities orthodontist, is aware of the positive and negative power of internet comments. He proactively searches his name on Google. He found an alarming post where a critic advised the public to not go to him.

“I’ve never had this happen,” said Ziman, who believed it was a false posting. “You can get your reputation sullied through rumor, innuendo and falsities.”

He could have posted a comment in his defence on the public site, doctoroogle.com, but it would have cost him $18. Privacy laws also prevent him from discussing his patients in public. So he filed a complaint regarding the fraudulent post with the FBI.

“Businesses are really, really afraid of anyone saying something about them; it demands good business practices,” she said. “Businesses need to know it exists and it’s not going away.”