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Complaints Online: The Sword Over Your Head

"Responding to online complaints is a tax that companies pay because of the chronic mismatch between what consumers expect from brands and what they ultimately get. An individualized response might momentarily bridge the gap, but it won't fix it. Never will."

I am coming back to Baskin's piece on the Twitter Tax.  The quote above defines that tax as the cost that is being paid by companies that are not particularly forthcoming or effective about what they are going to provide their consumers.

He suggests that not everyone is that savvy with the technology and the basic implication (I think) is that there needs to be a better job with addressing the expectations and providing what customers want.

He also suggests
...disconnects can't be overcome by novel new technologies or brilliantly creative marketing (at least not often, and certainly not consistently). 

But then in the next paragraph states
For every tweet we catch, there are likely dozens or hundreds of consumers just simmering on the edge of an online kvetch.

This Sword of Damoscles in this situation is most definitely double sided. 
First, granted that you can not address every customer need upfront in terms of their expectations, your marketing can only do so much. The overall atmosphere is not going to be controlled or changed by one ad or a Tweet.

Second, this sword hangs over the heads of every company that remotely chooses to step onto the Internet playing field. It has been forced again by the way things are. I am sure there are many an old school marketing department that wish they NEVER heard of Twitter, but if you are not going to engage the discussion- you've already lost, yes?

I suggested a few days back that you can have it both ways and I think that's true. Baskin's subtitle asks, "Are Online Complaints a Result of Innovation?"

Complaints are going to exist online or not. Just as he said, for every Tweet caught, there is an iceberg under 
the water of unexpressed issues. 

Blaming innovation does not address the problem of poor customer service. Several comments on his blog point out the truth, some get it right (Southwest, Virgin) to illustrate that you can have the "innovation" he speaks to while still doing it "old school."
When you promote your online social monitoring you're agreeing to pay the tax for the failures of your company's operators to do their jobs. 

Operators can still do their job right and services and products can be delivered properly, but that won't stop someone from nitpicking on Twitter or Facebook. Will it?

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