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Social media has shifted the balance of power

Com­panies these days must under­stand that every­body has a voice. So the best way to avoid a pub­lic rela­tions night­mare is to give great cus­tomer ser­vice right out of the gate. “It’s a bad day when a customer’s upset,” says Dave Car­roll, cre­ator of the musi­cal tril­ogy United Breaks Gui­tars.

United repeatedly refused to listen and take corrective action after damaging the guitars of Dave Carroll. He eventually wrote a song in response that have been viewed 8.8 mil­lion times since it went live a year ago and is among the most-watched video in the his­tory of YouTube. The inci­dent has gone down as per­haps the ulti­mate self-inflicted cus­tomer rela­tions screw-up by a major cor­po­ra­tion in the social media era of empow­ered cus­tomers.

Com­pa­nies pro­vid­ing poor cus­tomer ser­vice can’t ride out the sit­u­a­tion as in the past,” Car­roll says. United ran Car­roll through the bureau­cratic ringer for 9 months before giv­ing him a defin­i­tive answer about his com­pen­sa­tion claim: No. “I was almost out of options but I wasn’t because social media allowed me to express myself in a cre­ative way

As for Car­roll, his viral hits on YouTube have helped juice his career as an inde­pen­dent musi­cian and, now, a pub­lic speaker. CD sales are “through the roof,” he says, and he’s field­ing offers to play gigs and to write songs.

This is defin­i­tive a proof of how social media has shifted the bal­ance of power toward cus­tomers and away from arro­gant multi­na­tional cor­po­ra­tions.

For another exam­ples, see Web users turn to social media sites to channel anger and frustration, Transparency in a social media age and Social media as an activist tool.

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Experienced senior executive, both at a strategic and operational level, with strong track record in developing, driving and managing business improvement and development and change management. International experience from management positions in Denmark, Germany and Switzerland View full profile

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