Ask a Marketer – When Should You Ignore the Blogosphere?

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Usually “Ask a Marketer” questions come from someone else. This time, it comes from me. I’ve been wondering for a while now about what to do with a blog post I wrote about 18 months ago. It’s titled “Dear Bell Canada … don’t try to upsell me when I have a complaint“. It recounts an episode where I called in to Bell for customer support; they didn’t solve my problem, but they did take the time to try to upsell me.
In any case, it’s a pretty typical blogger rant where I offer my commentary on what I think they should do (one of the benefits of having a blog is that you can share your rants with the world). And then I didn’t really think much about it.
Well, it’s 18 months later. And during that time, I have had:

  • 48 Comments on the post.
  • 9012 unique visitors to the post.
  • Average time spent is over 6 minutes.

I am on the first page of Google results for a number of phrases like “bell canada sucks”, “I hate bell canada”, “bell expressview” (yes, this isn’t how *they* spell their product name, but a LOT of people do spell it this way) and “bell canada problem”.
I get a couple of comments a month and for the most part, I don’t respond. I remove the racist ones, but other than that, I pretty much just provide a forum for people to vent. And, wow, do they vent. But I think there has to be a better solution.
I’ve thought about trying to redirect commenters to Sutori. What is Sutori? From their FAQs

In a nutshell, Sutori is a place where customers can rate companies, share experiences, build consensus and reach companies to affect positive change.
Here’s how it works . . .
On Sutori, you can rate companies by posting stories about your experiences with them.
Each story is accompanied by a “goodwill rating”, which contributes to the goodwill meter—an aggregated view of how the Sutori community feels about each company.
When other users read your story, they have the option of leaving a comment or voting to agree or disagree with you.
To reflect the power of consensus, stories with many “agree” votes have a stronger impact on the goodwill meter. Similarly, stories with many “disagree” votes have less of an impact.
In addition to a centralized goodwill meter where companies can track how customers feel about them and why, Sutori also includes a mechanism whereby companies can post official responses to any story.

So, this seems like a good place to direct people. People can share experiences with companies (good and bad) which is what is happening on my blog right now. And there is a mechanism for reps from the companies to chime in as well.
Or, there’s a new social/customer service network, Get Satisfaction. From their blog

Satisfaction is people-powered customer service for absolutely everything. We’re building the start page for customer service online, powered by the people that actually use the stuff: the customers.
… If you’ve got a question about a product, a problem with a service, or an idea you want to share with a company, we’re going to give you somewhere to put it, and we’ll make it easy to get the response you need. And if you’re part of a company, an organization, or even an individual who needs a way to interact with your users (customers, participants, members, listeners, viewers, adherents, advocates, followers, whatever) we’re going to give you the best possible way to do that, as well as tools to get real business value out of the exchange.
And it’s not just about getting help — you can give help, too. This thing is people-powered, after all. Fortunately for us, the world is a big place, and everybody has expertise in something. Especially about the stuff they use day in and day out — the products they love and identify with, the ones they hate but are held captive by, and everything in between.

This is also very promising and a little more action-oriented. People (customers, advocates, detractors, whoever) can support each other. They become peers to official customer support reps, and ideally, partner with those reps to create something even stronger.
So, I guess my “Ask a Marketer” question is two-fold (and perhaps a little more nuanced than the title of this post):

  1. What would you do if you were Bell Canada and this were brought to your attention? Would you address it or ignore it? The numbers are significant but not overwhelming.
  2. And, what would you do if you were me? Would you leave the post as is? Try to redirect people to one of the above (or other solutions if you know of them!)?

Note … this isn’t to pick on Bell Canada. Every organization in Canada has blog posts about them good and bad. It’s more about starting a discussion about how we can give customers what they need as well as build our brands and corporate reputations at the same time.
So .. share your best ideas! What would you do?

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2 thoughts on “Ask a Marketer – When Should You Ignore the Blogosphere?

  1. mose

    Two words…
    Clue train.
    As we all know – or should know this is what the site http://www.Cluetrain.com and the book talk about. A conversation. As you may or may not know … I have the rights to the Cluetrain for my lectures and teaching and go around the world trying to get folks onboard.
    You see the Internet has changed the way we converse. It is about conversations. Full stop.
    Kate, you started a conversation and it continues – and SHOULD.
    From the Cluetrain body of work…
    When (Inter)networked Markets meet (Intra)networked Workers …
    The connectedness of the Web is transforming what’s inside and outside your business — your market and your employees.
    Through the Internet, the people in your markets are discovering and inventing new ways to converse. They’re talking about your business. They’re telling one another the truth, in very human voices.
    There’s a new conversation …
    Intranets are enabling your best people to hyperlink themselves together, outside the org chart. They’re incredibly productive and innovative. They’re telling one another the truth, in very human voices.
    Between and among your market and your workers, it’s making them smarter and it’s enabling them to discover their human voices.
    You have two choices. You can continue to lock yourself behind facile corporate words, marketing jargon and happy-talk brochures, or you can join the conversation.
    The Cluetrain is changing the way people think … the way they think about their customers, their employees, their bosses and their companies.
    In fact it is changing everything.
    Hello, Ma Bell? Are ya listening?

  2. Rick Couture

    1. What would you do if you were Bell Canada and this were brought to your attention? Would you address it or ignore it? The numbers are significant but not overwhelming.
    Absolutely Bell should address it. Large companies with customer service staff should have them actively searching for negative comments online and posting solutions to problems or at least an explanation/apology when appropriate.
    Some businesses are experimenting with customer forums, blogs, etc. to try and direct the comments to a place they have a bit more control of the message…
    2. And, what would you do if you were me?
    Definitely leave the post as is….without that kind of feedback companies like Bell will never change.
    Thank you for the links though – I’m into consumer advocacy and when I am dissatisfied with a big ticket product, I make sure to post about it on better known sites – now I have 2 more to add to my list.

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