Online Aggression: When Brands face the heat and deal with it

Have you ever been angry with your life, with your boss, your spouse, your car, or the stupid Yo Yo Honey Singh playing mofo cutting you off in traffic? You have managed to come back home, saw Arnab Goswami’s vocal cords astonish you with their endurance yet again? You decide to check your mail before collapsing on the bed. Might as well check your profile, eh?

And all the days’ frustration comes back to you. You find this brand talking about how amazing they are making taller claims than Modi and something snaps inside you.

Twenty minutes later, all that anger, hurt, and bitterness in your heart resulting in a 500-word emotional essay has been posted against a particular brand and those 5 likes validating your claim bring satisfactory closure to the day.

Brands face such criticism and hatred on a regular basis online. Most of it is well deserved but sometimes, the psychiatric need for attention is quite apparent.

The problem is not in the unrealistic need for individuals to blame their problems on brands and the “Sarkar” but rather, the way the brands deal with these complaints/queries/tale of woe. Most idiots hide it (idiots), delete it (a few screenshots and your day is made) or respond with a pre-approved response further exacerbating the matter. The point here is to look at the complaint not as a problem to solve but as an opportunity to further the brands' agenda.

Let’s take an example to explain what I am talking about from a real-life true story. Let’s look at this complaint below:

The customer ie me, is angry with the shoe I bought from Bata, he is obviously not a fan of the quality of the shoes and I have spent a significant sum to purchase those shoes. I bought the shoes to stay on my own two feet while playing some football on India Gate’s lush grassy lawns. And one use was enough to sound the death bell of the product. The company officials are also threatened with “restraining order potential” hazards if they don’t comply. And ending this diatribe with an innovative swear word which I am not especially proud of.

Now a normal response would be to hide or delete this post. Also respond with a simple “ We apologize for our shitty products and false promises, try to give us some time to get back to you and make some more.”

This is not a response that will calm me down. They don’t know how skinny I am! They have given me more fodder to bang the table with demands like a petulant child. Now what a decent response to such a complaint would be something like this below:

The brand obviously isn’t gung-ho about replacing my messed up shoes. However, they are giving me a lot of incentive to be a bit nice and civil about the way I complain and be a gentleman in lieu of such a response. I will probably still make some noise about this while sharing my contact details but I just don’t have that motivation anymore. And once the brand gets my contact details, they will probably incentivize me further either with a replacement or a decent discount on Bata shoes for my whole team. Or at least that is what I am led to believe and I am put off-balance by this “ Classic Misdirection “ Or not that, they have the option of negotiating with me down to the minimum possible payout and still through discount coupons make me not angry at them.

Here I have accomplished a few things

  • Calmed down the irate customer
  • Gained a few more customers
  • Created a local and highly relevant brand ambassador

And this started out as an annoying problem for the brand.

There can be many more such examples and exceptions where the customer will not necessarily respond in the way you expect them to. But through a trial and error method, a brand can create more opportunities and less embarrassment out customer complaints.

Be Nice!

Originally published at on May 15, 2014.