Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Virtual Suggestion Box

A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I were having issues with our cell phone carrier. We spent countless hours humming to the music while on hold and talking to different customer service reps who had no authority to do anything to solve our problem.  Out of desperation I finally posted on the wireless carrier's Facebook page.

I was polite and brief in my post. In less than fifteen minutes, a Facebook administrator came on and  I was given an email address to write to with details of my complaint. I did and I received a response with the phone number of the direct line to the person who could help us. And she did. To our satisfaction and beyond; so we will remain a customer.

What is the lesson here? When I was talking on the phone to a customer service rep it was a private conversation. I wasn't taken seriously. When I put the complaint on their Facebook wall, potentially a whole lot of people could see my complaint - possibly damaging their reputation and hurting sales. It had to be dealt with in a timely fashion.

Dinosaur - minded  businesses, organizations and shelters are grumbling about this new virtual suggestion box. They say it is too easy for people to "bash" them on Facebook or Twitter. But, if you have ever run a business, you know that your most valuable tool is feedback. Companies used to spend a lot of money to get customer feedback - suggestion boxes, mail surveys.  They would even give away coupons or prizes if you filled in a survey and mailed it back.  Now, thanks to the Internet, customer feedback is instantaneous and it's free!

Customer feedback helps you streamline and improve your operations, spot trends and develop marketing strategies. It helps you retain customers and provide excellent service.

Whether you're a business or a non-profit, if you are ignoring, deleting or otherwise remaining unresponsive to feedback you are making a big mistake. Some Facebook pages have their "walls" set to a setting where nobody else can comment. How silly is that? "Social" media. Doesn't that imply there should be a conversation going on? It's like going to a party and then standing in a corner with your face to the wall.

The good news for the customer and the animals is that mediocrity is no longer acceptable. The Internet does not allow for mediocrity in business or animal welfare. Those who aren't striving for excellence every single day will get called out. Like the dinosaurs who failed to adapt, they will fade away into extinction, - where they belong.

Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning. - Bill Gates


  1. I live in Beloit, Rock County, WI. For numerous years, the majority of our towns,cities, municipalities have contracted Rock County Animal Services to assist in our stray,lost,surrendered animals. There contract is up on December 31, 2011. They need to raise their rates to continue assisting our county. The City of Janesville, where they are located, and the largest municipality is not willing to pay the rate hike. Although Beloit and others were willing to pay, Rock County Animals Services has already started to refuse to assist with any animals in the city of Beloit. There has not been another alternative put in place for our animal population come the first of the year.
    We are responsible for our animal population and need to have a facility in place to house, care and feed the abandoned,lost,stray animals in our county. I am not getting any offers for solutions from anyone that I try to talk to about this matter. It would be greatly appreciated if anyone could assist with this.

  2. Very good - I am in the middle of dealing with a "lemon" smartphone. I will remember this....

  3. @Melinda, can you email me on this matter? -

  4. It really frustrates me that the rescue I work with has a volunteer who deletes all the negative comments off the Facebook wall. I am a business owner, and I would never delete a negative comment. That is my opportunity to try to make things right for that person. They have a right to complain, and I am not perfect.

    Rescues need to remember they are in the BUSINESS of getting dogs into homes. It's poor business to ignore or delete customer feedback that is not 100 percent positive.

    This particular rescue's excuse is that it is there for the dogs and it doesn't have time for negative people. This is a huge pet peeve of mine.

  5. I guess the ASPCA doesn't think it needs feedback on what it is doing wrong...

  6. Wonderful article. I wish all pet rescuers and animal shelter would read this.

    Deleting and banning is not dealing with the problem it is only getting people mad and mad people tell more people about the problem and the org.