ComplainApp shames companies into helping their customers

Got a problem with a business? New app aims to rope in your social network pals to force the hand of the company that wronged you.

Since a good part of the content on the Web is whining and complaining, it stands to reason that there's a nice, perpetual business here. People love to kvetch, and companies will always giving us reasons to do so.

A new mobile app, ComplainApp, harnesses this fundamental human behavior and uses social media platforms (mostly Twitter) to help consumers get the help (they feel) they deserve.

With the app, you get, first, a hot list of other users' recent complaints. If one resonates with you, you can retweet it with a single click, which should help the complaint get noticed by the offending companies. ComplainApp founder Noam Gordon says this is a critical step in getting a complaint resolved today. "Most modern CRM systems use Twitter," he says, and companies have people monitoring Twitter and other social platforms. Make a big enough stink on a social network and you're likely to get a personal response from the company.

You can add your support to other users' gripes, or make your own. Screenshot by Rafe Needleman/CNET

You can also create your own complaint, using a menu of companies (with location awareness on the app) and common problems. These complaints are then posted on the service, where other users can add their "me toos" to them. ComplainApp can also, Gordon says, craft "beautiful complaint letters," although I didn't see it do much other than crafting pithy tweets. Users can add specifics to these if they like. ComplainApp knows which accounts to direct complaints to on Twitter and Facebook; Google+ and GetSatisfaction support comes later.

Gordon's business model is unusual: he's using a "tip box" that is supposed to surface only after a complaint is resolved or the company contacts the consumer. The app is, fundamentally, free, but this model might actually generate some revenue since it should only ask users for a contribution when they have just gotten something (satisfaction) from a big company they probably wouldn't have otherwise. This is not a huge business model, but it might support Gordon's small dev team.

And if it doesn't work, you can use ComplainApp to complain about ComplainApp. Gordon promises he'll respond to all these complaints, and more importantly, use them as input to improve his product--as, he believes, most companies do when they mistakenly wrong a customer or receive appropriate critical feedback.

I can confirm that a well-placed Twitter kvetch can be effective. I've whined about Dell, Comcast, and other companies on Twitter, and the response has usually been just what I wanted: swift and fawning.

See also: Get Satisfaction and Gripe

 

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