So there’s a little chatter about the idea of some kind of site or blog that gathers customer complaints. It isn’t a bad idea at all. But in my own experiences what the people want and what they’ll do about it are quite different. So what is needed? Well Annette mentions the following:
I for one would like to see a dedicated portal for customer service in Ireland where bloggers could post their experiences (good and bad) of customer service and try and impact on this whole area. I’d be really interested in stories of excellence as well as the horror ones because until customers raise their expectations of what is acceptable then our benchmarks will hover around the bottom of the scale
Definitely I agree and like the idea of the negative and the positive being highlighted. McDonald’s seems to be getting great press recently via Piaras and Conor and even Insure.ie are getting some positive remarks from an initial negative me. I’ve also since heard two more positive stories about Insure.ie addressing issues people had with them after people read my post.
Some things to think about:
- Would such a site just be about customer care and not actually about resolving your specific issue?
(as in “NTL’s support is bad because x, y z “compared to “Please fix my broadband speeds”)
- Moderated or unmoderated comments?
- Anonymous, semi-anonymous, real name only?
There does seem to be sites out there for that purpose such as the Consumer Issues forum on boards.ie, the Ask About Money website and the seemingly defunct Telcowatch.org website but I think we need a lot lot more of them. Plenty of niche areas could do with groups and websites to do something about service.
As Will mentions, my experiences when I ring to complain to a telco or to the regulator now are that my call gets escalated, even when I have a genuine complaint. Without question I can route around the tech support line barriers and have someone appear on my doorstep within 3 hours if I wanted to abuse my position in IrelandOffline. I don’t and I even refuse to intervene when family members have hassle. However, imagine if everyone were the in a lobby group, all our calls would be treated with priority in that small market segment. That can actually benefit the service providers too.
It is easy to set up a group to collate and magnify issues. Easier than ever thanks to forums and email and skype and Wikis. This consumer portal could be like a central site with dozens or hundreds of subsites are all present. One single-sign on gives you access to all of them. In fact, Boards.ie could always add some kind of consumer group module for allowing people to create tools for an activist community to use.
Years back I had planned to build a portal called Activism.ie where it would allow someone to create a subdomain for any activist group and it would supply them with email lists, public and private forums, wikis and lots of other tools. I still might set that up but there is also a need for a consumer portal too.
I’ve seen a community built up around the IrelandOffline forum on boards.ie and around other lobby groups and know of businesses that actually got formed from these communities. The IrelandOffline community has been good to eircom, BT , UTV and many other companies because this community shares their knowledge and they help people with tech support issues too. Less staff needed by the companies if their users act as supporters. I think that is a key issue with companies. Their users are not their supporters. There is an “us” on the consumer side and their is an “us” on the business side and these do not intersect . The broadband forum over there on Boards is another example of a voluntary community solving a lot of the tech support issues which ISPs could be getting.
To rehash the words of Brian Caulfield at BarCamp, it is the market and the team that are important, not the tech. You don’t need techies to build your portal. You don’t need to know web programming. A blog could be your portal to start with. Find your niche area and find the people to campaign around it. Who’ll do it though?