Friday, 9 September 2011

A complaint against complaints

The wonders of the World Wide Web means that anyone who has an opinion on anything can tell all and sundry exactly what they think of a certain brand, product, service, celebrity etc.

As consumers, we have a right to reply and why shouldn’t we? After all, what better way to make a company stand up and pay attention to the little man than causing a bit of fuss? The trouble is, it seems to be human nature to only tweet, blog or post about negative experiences rather than positive ones. Particularly as companies are being held publicly accountable for their mistakes, we seem to feel there will be more benefit to us in venting our frustrations in such a way, rather than praising great service or a fantastic product we’re chuffed to bits with.

As a result, the role of PR comes sharply into focus, as agencies who handle social media support become the first port of call for infuriated Mrs Jones whose oven broke down on Christmas Day when she was due to cook for the whole world and his wife. It’s great to see big name brands spurred into action when something goes wrong and the sorry story is pasted over review forums and blog posts for anyone to see and comment on, making the matter right with compensation or what have you, but in many instances, the issue can get a little blown out of proportion.

When looking at review sites, you could easily be scared off because undoubtedly, every company will fail every so often and someone will be there to tell all. Just like Victor Meldrew, some people simply live to complain.

If you believed every bad review you read, you’d probably buy nothing, stay nowhere and avoid most of the high street restaurants. We all need to take reviews with a pinch of salt, aware that things do go wrong (and more frequently in some sectors rather than others) and that we can weigh up the good, the bad and the ugly. Companies are realising the impact that such instant public complaints can have and how PR can help address the issues but consumers too should be sure to complain and praise in equal measure.


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