I'm not sure who has heard about the Domino's fisaco in the US but basically, two uninspired employees recorded themselves adding un-sanctioned ingredients to their customer's orders. Then, posted the video on Youtube.
It has prompted a bit of discussion around how the corporation has, should or could have dealt with the PR nightmare that has ensued.
Joseph Jaffe made a great statement in response to it: Marketers need to understand that when a blogger hits the publish button, they are essentially "contacting" the brand for a response, albeit indirectly.
This provoked a numgber of thoughts for me:
1. The complaints department must emerge from their box
Before it was easy to jump upon your online soap-box and complain about a brand or service, consumers were forced to make direct complaints at the site of the problem. Consumers would physically hold the face of the brand to ransom (think a 15 y.o. check-out chick taking the blame for an open pack of flour) . Now, with the physical barriers removed, confrontation is somewhat...well, less confronting. Anyone can have a say and satisfy their craving to effect change (even if the change isn't realised).
Brands have long had 'complaints' departments and strategies to deal with unsatisfied consumers but in the age of conversation they have failed to evolve and seem to respond to complaints in an old-fashioned manner albeit via 'new media'.
2. A policy for dealing with complaints must be malleable
I would argue that prevention is better than a cure and recognising the types of crisis' that will organically spread amongst consumers is an under-valued talent. Without a listening strategy brands leave themselves open to responding to the people who they think matter (ie influentials) rather than those that do matter (those that the influentials identify).