If your company is big enough, you will be hit with a sucks.com site eventually. There was a point in time where these sites were rather novel. That’s point has long since passed. Now such sites are often managed by cranky gadflies who are never pleased by any company with whom they do business. Though some can offer a helpful focus group to assess the health of your brand.
One thing is certain: in the era of web 2.0 where everyone has a microphone, a camera and a printing press, and can instantly alert their friends to how your company has wronged them, corporate communications professionals can’t afford to ignore these sites or their creators.
That’s why I urge you to read this story by Emily Steel in last week’s Wall Street Journal. Titled, “How to Handle ‘IHateYourCompany.com’, the article examines new research by FairWinds Partners on how some of America’s top brands handle their sucks.com sites.
FairWinds researched 1058 domain names for the Global 500 and Fortune 500 lists. They found that 35 percent of the companies surveyed own the domain name of their brand followed by the word “sucks”, yet 45 percent of these names haven’t been registered by anyone.
What struck me most about Steel’s story was that not one of the company spokespeople she quoted explicitly emphasized what their company was doing to improve customer service. Instead the spokespeople just said that they are listening to the feedback from these gripe sites.
What these companies really need to do is ask themselves why their customers would be so unhappy that they would take the time to register these gripe domains, create content and build traffic for these sites. What motivates someone to be this angry?
My own company has its share of gripe sites and that’s due in no small part because we neglected taking care of our customers over a long period of time. But we’re working to turn around our reputation for customer service and our customers are taking notice. As we succeed, fewer people surfing the web will give much credence to our gripe sites and our financial picture should improve.
Shouldn’t that be every business’s goal?
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A friendly reminder found elsewhere on this blog: The views expressed on this blog are solely mine. They do not reflect Sprint Nextel’s positions, strategies or opinions.