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Where are you when it comes to responding to a customer complaint? Or more importantly, are you aware how quickly a customer complaint can be made in 2015?

Once upon a time a customer complaint might take some time to filter through via traditional channels- by phone, post or in person. But in today’s hyper connected world, a customer complaint can be made in seconds and what’s more, hundreds of thousands of people can quickly become witnesses and active participants to this complaint being made.

Take the recent and well documented travails of international rugby referee Nigel Owens. He was due to travel from Bristol to Dublin to referee the Leinster v Zebre Pro 12 Game, only to be denied boarding by Ryanair as he forgot his passport. Ryanair’s T&Cs are very clear and you must present your passport to board the flight. Mr. Owens missed his flight and as he got ready to return home to collect his passport, he did what millions of people are now doing, he let the world know his predicament by posting his thoughts via social media, in this instance via Twitter.

Here’s where the story takes off, excuse the pun. A flurry of tweets ensues between Mr. Owens and Ryanair until Ryanair’s arch nemesis Aer Lingus jumps on board and reassures Mr Owens that it’s much easier to travel with Aer Lingus as you don’t need a passport to board. Mr. Owens happily jumps jets and packs down with Aer Lingus for his Dublin bound flight.

Interestingly, Mr Owens pointed out that he respected the Ryanair policy but argued that all that was needed was a ‘bit of common sense.’ It’s a customer complaint nonetheless.

The bigger story here is not Mr. Owens’ Twitter ping pong with Ryanair and Aer Lingus but the oxygen that was pumped into this story by the use of social media. If there was no Twitter, Facebook or Snapchat this story would never have generated the interest it did.

Count the number of retweets via the 5 quoted tweets in this blog post. 905 and counting as this story will run for a while yet. In social media parlance, it’s ‘reach’ was considerable.

The $64,000 dollar question for any small business owner reading this post is, what is your next unsatisfied customer going to do to vent his or her displeasure. Long gone is the customer suggestion box, they are a quaint reminder of a time gone by. You now need social media tools to listen and to watch what is going on in and around your business. Customer service has to be a core business function.

As an aside, see how humour percolates the entire episode as a clever Leinster fan issues Mr Owens with a new passport. 

If you recognise the potential on offer then you’ll be setting up your social media accounts this week. A great business, no matter its size, thrives when it’s proactive in dealing with customer complaints. All that is required, in most instances, is a sympathetic voice. From the example above, that’s what Mr Owens was looking for.



Marc O'Dwyer

After completing a Graduate program in Marketing, Marc’s impressive sales career began at Allied Irish Banks, Pitney Bowes and Panasonic where he received numerous Irish and European sales performance awards and consistently exceeded targets and expectations. In 1992, Marc’s entrepreneurial spirit led him to set up his own business, Irish International Sales (IIS). Initially, this company was a reseller for Take 5 Accounts and Payroll software. Within four years, IIS became the largest reseller of Take 5 in Ireland, acquiring four other Take 5 resellers. He also found time to set up two mobile phone shops under the Cellular World brand and a web design company offering website design services for small businesses. In 2001, he bought the majority share in a small Irish software business, Big Red Book. At that time, the company was losing money. The company became profitable within two months, and Marc then acquired a payroll company to compliment Big Red Books Accounting products. In 2003, IIS were appointed as Channel Partners with SAP for their new SME product, SAP Business One. Marc sold his Take 5 business and concentrated on developing this new market for SAP As a result, by 2007, IIS was recognised as the largest Channel Partner for SAP in EMEA (Europe Middle East and Africa). In 2008, the IIS Sales Manager bought the Company from Marc in an MBO. He launched Big red cloud in June 2012, the online version of big red book, to date the company successfully converts 59% of trials into sales and the number of customers is growing rapidly. Marc continues to run both Big Red Book and Big Red Cloud which now support 75,000 businesses. He is a very keen sportsman, having played rugby for 20 years, represented Leinster at under 16 and under 20 levels, and league squash with Fitzwilliam Lawn Tennis Club for 10 years. Marc has competed in 11 Marathons, including the London and Boston Marathons, and has completed several Triathlons and Half Ironman races. He has also completed six Ironman Races in Austria(x2), Frankfurt (Germany), Nice (France) , Mallorca (Spain) and Copenhagen (Denmark)

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