Looking at Customer Service 2.0 with Gripe and Tello

by Ellen Lee on July 25, 2011
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When customers are upset, they’re not necessarily turning to the Better Business Bureau anymore. With the explosion of social media, many have found that it can be equally effective to complain on Facebook and Twitter. Or just look at all the one and two star ratings on Yelp.

Now two more customer service tools have arrived and they’re drawing buzz: Gripe and Tello. Both tap the power of social media and the smartphone to give customers a way to complain (or cheer) about their experience with a particular business and share it with their social network.

Why should businesses pay attention? In the past, a negative review could eventually be buried under other comments on a message board. Or if it were anonymous or written under a fake name, it could be ignored and written off as just a comment from an angry (or crazy) person.

With Gripe, a consumer can post a complaint and share it with friends and followers through Facebook and Twitter. Then those friends and followers can share it with their friends and followers, and so on. Since the gripe comes from someone they know, it carries more weight. Positive or negative, the review can reach and influence more people.

In addition to the review, customers also tell the business how it can fix the problem. Businesses have an incentive to respond quickly, says founder Farhad Mohit, who previously also started the customer ratings site BizRate. Once a complaint is resolved, that message is posted, too, and it can be circulated just as widely. In the future, he adds, businesses will also be able to tap the service to offer rewards for customers and their friends, such as the ones who post a positive review.

Tello, a smartphone app, lets the consumer review not just the business, but also a particular employee, such as the receptionist, salesperson, or customer service agent. The tool could help businesses get a sense of their best and worst customer-facing employees. Sound scary? Tello says that so far 85 percent of its reviews have been positive.

So what should businesses do? Gripe notifies a business if a customer posts a negative review and encourages the business to respond. Tello also reaches out to businesses (assuming it can find their contact information) if a review has been posted, whether it is positive or negative. Many of the businesses reviewed so far are large corporations, such as Home Depot and Best Buy, but small businesses should be aware — and be ready to respond, too.

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