Customer Service Impacts Marketing, Part 2

Speaking of the how the blogosphere megaphones the negativity of bad customer service, take a good, long look at this WSJ article on negative brand websites.

Of the companies surveyed, 35% own the domain name for their brand followed by the word “sucks.” They include Wal-Mart Stores, Coca-Cola, Toys”R”Us, Target and Whole Foods Market, according to FairWinds. Some 45% of these domains have yet to be registered by anyone. (FairWinds based its analysis on 1,058 domain names for companies on the Global 500 and Fortune 500 lists.)

Marketers have it in their best interests to charge ahead and create a strategy to deal with negativity in the blogosphere and beyond. Yet, again, the most effective way of dealing with it is to do everything to align your customer service and entire organizational strategy with the messaging in your campaigns (or vice versa). That way, hopefully consumer expectations either align with the brand experience, OR if there is a problem they at least give you adequate chance to resolve it. And even then it can be too late:

While some of the gripe sites that remain in the hands of critics have fizzled, others have grown bigger. Take BankofAmericaSucks.com, which was started by former Bank of America customer Jonathan Speigner nearly five years ago after a dispute with the bank over a car loan. It now is home to thousands of postings, and it calls itself the “Official Bank of America consumer opinion site.”
Consumers continue to post complaints on the site. One recent post from a user named “Ripped_off” says: “BOA does not care about customers….BOA is a disgrace to banking. I can pretty much relate to every complaint I’ve seen on this site and others.” The site is mentioned in numerous blogs and newspaper articles, and appears among the top 15 results on a Google search for “Bank of America.”
Even though Mr. Speigner’s dispute with the bank over the loan is long settled, the information-technology director at an Atlanta technology company says he keeps up the Web site because it continues to draw traffic.

If you’re a brand dealing with a problem of buying domains to salvage your message in the blogosphere, you need to flip-flop your strategy and deal with it at the other end of the spectrum. And if you read this and still think customer service doesn’t impact marketing, think again (or find other work).

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