Have you ever been dissatisfied with the way a company or a customer service department has treated you? Has that experience led you to write a letter or file a complaint, only to find that nothing was resolved and that you weren’t clearly heard?
If you have said yes to any of the above, then I have some good news! As far as companies are concerned, they should now fear your dissatisfaction.
Musician Dave Carroll, or as most of the world knows him, “the guy who made that YouTube video called ‘United Breaks Guitars,’” has a plan for scorned customers, and it’s called Gripevine. Gripevine is the first social media site with an exclusive focus on customer complaints — and their resolutions.
Before we get into specifics about this new site, however, you have to understand the backstory. You see, while Carroll was on a United airline flying out of Chicago O’Hare, his $3,500 Taylor guitar was broken by baggage-handling staff members — and no one wanted to take responsibility for the damage.
According to an article on the Financial Post, Carroll and his band members didn’t receive much sympathy from customer service representatives after reporting the incident:
[T]heir immediate complaints were turned aside by United staff stuck intractably in “Not my problem” mode, and when Carroll reached Omaha, where his band Sons of Maxwell had a gig, he found that his $3,500 Taylor guitar had been smashed inside its travelling case. After a long and nightmarish jaunt through a claims system much more badly broken than Carroll’s axe, he received final word from an otherwise friendly customer-service rep that he had missed a “standard 24-hour timeframe” for formally reporting damage to baggage.
Unfortunately for United, Carroll chose to strike back in his own way! Angered by United’s lack of action or care, he wrote the memorable “United Breaks Guitars” song, and almost immediately it went viral. Check out the creative video retaliation here:
This is pretty cool, but was it effective? Time Magazine stated that, within four days of the video being posted, United’s stock dropped 10%! Talk about being heard…
Now, back to Gripevine. For those of us who don’t have the time (or the talent) to sit down and create an internet sensation or song about all the companies that have done us wrong, it’s okay, because Dave Carroll has us covered. Dave has co-founded and launched an internet platform for frustrated customers to gripe — thus the name, Gripevine.
With Gripevine,unhappy customers can post their “gripes” and complaints regarding specific companies. Once said complaints are on the site, Gripevine uses automated channels to notify companies of the grievances against them. Once a company is notified, they then have the option of to rectify the problem and make amends with unhappy customers. If the companies choose to ignore (or simply not care about) the complaints, then they are indexed and put into a company rating system for people to see in public reviews. Now that’s bringing a modern twist to social protests through the use of social media!
This is absolutely a time when I think that modern-day social networks are really fulfilling their purpose. By using the appropriate social media outlets and channels, customers are now able to harness their frustrations in order to help others! Isn’t that what it’s all about?
P.S. Dave also wrote a book called United Breaks Guitars: The Power of One Voice in the Age of Social Media, which would be worth reading to any social media nuts or customer service fanatics out there.
What do you think? Do you think this new social network will have little or no impact or do you think that it will truly bring a big voice to the everyday consumer?