Monday, 12 November 2007

The Power of One

Crossposted at BlogRhet

In early October I had an unfortunate experience at a local branch of Danier Leather. In the course of a blog post mainly about agism I described this incident, and in the Comments to the post several readers advised that I should write to the company to complain. This seemed like a good idea and so I wrote a letter to the local store and one to the president of the company (always go to the top). My commenters had asked me to let them know what was happening and I therefore posted a copy of the letter to the president as a follow up. The next morning I had an email in my inbox from the Call Centre Operations manager; it seems that the company does a frequent search of the Web for mentions of its name and that of its president (which is why I am not naming him here).

The email apologised for the incident, assured me that there would be follow-up and asked that I call the writer. When I did, we had a good conversation about what I had written and why, I apologised for posting the letter before snailmailing it and I was offered a gift as an apology. All very nice. What really intrigued me, however, was the speed of the response and the fact that the company was trolling the internet for references to its name. Some of my comment writers had included incidents of their own in which they had complained about service, with varying results. But I defy anyone to cite a faster response than the one I have just described.

All of which is a preface to the main theme of this post, which is the power of using the internet. It never occurred to me that the Danier Leather people would pick up a reference to themselves in a blog. Search engines are amazing tools. I know that some of you have visit counters of more or less sophistication, some of which track what search words were used to get the visitor to your site, some of which track where the visitor comes from, and much more. I just have a simple hit counter but I am contemplating an upgrade now. And so that is Question Number One -- do you have a sophisticated counter and if so, what does it tell you about your visitors and how do you make use of the information?

Question Number Two is this -- have you written a complaint about any company by name (as opposed to writing to the company) and if you have, what kind of response did you get? As I said earlier, I was absolutely amazed by the speed with which my complaint was picked up. As well, I was impressed with how seriously they took it. It makes me wonder if other big companies are internet savvy and have a protocol for responding to mentions of them. And if so, what kind of companies they are. Danier is a provider of luxury goods; would this make them more complaints sensitive than someone like Sears or Walmart?

Third and last, I find myself thinking hard about how this power could be harnessed and used to address some of the issues that BlogRhet contributors are concerned with. Things like lack of sensitivity in advertising or child unfriendly retail outlets (I know of a coffee shop that did not have a baby changing table in the washroom, for goodness sake) or staff. Things like lack of respect (basic good manners!) for the poor slobs who are spending the money. Julie Pippert did a good post on that one on her home site. I, for one, am completely sick of grocery checkout staff who chat with a co-worker while scanning and bagging my purchases. The local grocery where I shop has a complaints station and posts the complaint, plus answer, on the wall at the front of the store. There's no such facility in most of the big chains. But there is the internet, hmm?

If this kind of thing interests you, could you give some thought to the questions. If you have done post(s) about similar things, could you drop off a link, please. I'd really like to hear your ideas and if I get some good ones, do a follow up post on the topic.



  1. must go check out discussion at blogrhet...

  2. Ahhh things to say here! Will try to do so at BlogRhet today but I'm on for teaching this morning.

    And wanted to make sure you saw my blog on Sunday.

    Using My Words

  3. I took the piss out of Curves early on in my blogging history. Never heard a peep from them. I know that the corps may follow-up on issues in the blogosphere as a means of practicing damage control but I remain cynical about how willing they would be to enact systemic change of the kind you and all of us hope for.

  4. I already commented on your post at BlogRhet, but then headed over here to check out your blog. I was thinking about this subject today and it reminded me of a time before blogs when I wrote a letter to a company to complain about poor service. The manager's quick response to my letter was what led to me giving the company a second chance. Not so with other companies. A company that isn't interested in keeping its customers and source of income happy is never going to see my money again.

  5. BTW, I referenced your post at my blog.