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"United Breaks Guitars" Guy Talks the Future of Social Customer Complaints

The guy who famously put a major corporation on blast for poor customer service is now working to give brands a "fighting chance at managing their reputations."

Make no mistake—Dave Carroll, the musician and customer service advocate behind the groundbreaking "United Breaks Guitars" video series, remains committed to empowering the customer, to protecting the little guy from the ambiguous run-arounds that are common practice within far too many customer service departments

And no matter what macro-level experiential improvements we see documented in studies, he sees far too many customers stuck in the same boat he was in several years ago.

"The same sentiment seems to be there: [customers are] frustrated and they want answers. They don’t want to go from one phone call to another and be redirected," explains Carroll.

But Carroll simultaneously sees no reason why the matter of customer complaints—and the social networks that facilitate their broadcast—needs to focus on a war between the user and the producer, the little guy and The Man. Why not instead use the power of social media to bring the complaining customer and the responsible brand together, enabling resolution by making it efficient for the company to do so?

Carroll’s answer to the question is Gripevine, a new customer complaint resolution network he founded with business partner Richard Hue. The network empowers the customer, giving him a forum for sharing his experience and stating the type of resolution or response he seeks from the relevant brand. In addition to providing avenues for sharing the complaint and garnering peer support, Gripevine also pipes the comment directly into decision-making representatives who are able to provide the resolution.

As Gripevine takes off, it will further empower customers to get the service they need from brands and help the brands better control their online reputations by centralizing negative customer sentiment. And, since the complaints are being communicated directly to empowered brand representatives, Gripevine eliminates the inefficiencies of traditional contact center environments.

Carroll explains, "If you’re a company and you’re employing people by the hour to answer questions that they don’t have answers to…then that’s kind of wasting money. There is $83 billion per year being wasted in the customer service world."

In this exclusive podcast with, Gripevine co-founder Dave Carroll explains why Gripevine makes sense for business and also speaks more broadly on the intersection of social media and customer complaints.

After explaining how customers are using Gripevine and why he believes Gripevine is a compelling alternative to other social networks for complaint-handling, he addresses the recent criticism that videos like "United Breaks Guitars" create a bully-mentality and misdirect brands to focus on resolving singular, viral complaints rather than their core customer experience shortcomings.

Check out the latest CustomerManagementIQ podcast now!