The Power of Social Media

In the past the ability of consumers to complain and achieve and positive result was difficult if not impossible. Most businesses chose to ignore complaints, send them to low level functionaries or in the most extreme cases threaten the person complaining with legal action. This has changed significantly over the past several years.

Six years ago, I was flying from Albuquerque to New York and I missed my flight do solely to an error on my part. The agent at Delta was not only extremely helpful but went out of her way to get me a hotel room at a reduced rate at a hotel near the airport and to book me on a red eye so I would get back to New York only a little late. I was extremely grateful and wanted to send a recommendation to the CEO of Delta about this outstanding employee. When I got back to New York, I called Delta’s 800 number and I asked for the CEO’s name and the address of corporate headquarters. I was given the fifth degree about why I wanted this information and was ultimately told that I should send my letter to a much lower level official at Delta. I went on the internet and in a few minutes found the information I was looking for and I sent the letter to Delta’s CEO.

The world is changing and I think even the large corporations with deep pockets are realizing that a confrontation with a small company or individual is potentially a big problem for them. As an example, in June of 2010 a gentleman named Giorgio Galante took AT&T to task in his blog. He also sent two emails and made two calls to AT&T’s CEO, Randall Stephenson. He was threatened with legal action by AT&T management if he attempted to contact the CEO again. This story hit the social media and AT&T received tens of thousands of emails. Then it hit the print media and TV. AT&T formally apologized to Mr. Galante although not through its CEO.

Mr. Galante at the same time he had sent the email to Mr. Stephenson sent a similar email to the now late Steve Jobs at Apple about several iPhone issues. Mr. Jobs or someone on his staff on his behalf responded to Mr. Galante on his concerns and what Apple’s position was and why.

The result, AT&T lost a customer and received a ton of publicity about it acting like a bully. Apple kept a loyal customer.

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