Yelp, a web site, where consumers post positive or negative reviews of local businesses can be a boon to customer satisfaction, sales and new customer acquisition or it can be a real headache for a local business. The power of consumers is very evident in this new review site which boasts 30 Million users a month, and 10 Million reviews, mostly in the US, but also in Canada, UK and Ireland. This article describes Why Yelp is important, what Yelp is, how local business owners can use Yelp and what do to next if you are just getting started.

Is Big Brother watching you? Remember George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eigthy Four? Well Big Brother isn’t watching you but everyone else is. Almost everyone with a cell phone has a camera in it that can take pictures and movies. These pictures or movies can be posted to Web 2.0 sites like Facebook, or Youtube and be very embarrassing. Lately this has become very visible in the media as well. Recent newspaper articles about Transit workers and Local Politicians highlight how cell phones cameras are changing the visibility of employees working with or out in the public. Customer satisfaction can be impacted by negativity that is now very visible.

The bad news continues for Toyota’s brands. Prius, Lexus, Sai, Camry and Tacoma recalls have been issued in the past week. And there is investigation going on about possible problems with the steering on newer Toyota Corollas. Customer Satisfaction with Toyota has certainly been impacted with this widespread quality problems. Some Toyota units in the US were named in a Racketeering lawsuit. Toyota shareholders have also seen a big drop (about 20%) in their share value since mid January when the most recent recalls started.

Toyota’s customer satisfaction plans are not going well. The consumer expects Toyota to care about their safety and notify them of potential problems and fixes. They also expect swift action on issues, with a strong action plan to fix and some indication of how Toyota will ensure this kinds of problems will not recur in the future. Toyota is bungling these actions. The Toyota Prius and Lexus hybrid models are being added to Toyota’s quality woes with a possible defect in brakes. While Toyota claims to have fixed the problem in the new cars it is manufacturing it has no action plan for current affected Prius owners. Toytoa’s CEO apologizes. Also see the video of customer reactions.

Toyota Customer Satisfaction – an Oxymoron?

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

Has the term Toyota Customer Satisfaction become an Oxymoron? Toyota’s recent quality problems on stuck gas pedals has now forced the company to halt car production AND SALES in North America of the affected models. The US government forced Toyota into this action. Car rental agencies, Toyota biggest customers, have pulled the affected Toyota models of out of service. The entire ecosystem, customers, leasing companies, insurance companies, shareholders are all negatively affected. There are recalls now in China and Europe. Should the affected Toyotas be allowed on the nation’s streets and highways? Can Toyota’s reputation ever recover?

US Thanksgiving Black Friday shopping brought out new services being used by retailers who have embraced Twitter. Augmenting traditional customer questions and problems are new services such as where to find parking near the store, in store specials, up to the minute inventory in store, and more. Best Buy pilots Twelpforce – 2500 employees responding to customer questions.

A recent article in the Toronto Star highlights a case where a VP of Customer Service at Bell Canada would not ever talk to a customer!

Pepsi has launched a new iPhone free app called ‘Amp up Before your Score’ which is causing a stir in the social media world. The iphone App is interesting in that it offers to help men trying to find dates and help them ‘score’. The application has caused outrage amongst both men and women for stereotyping and degrading women. Pepsico apologized but has yet to withdraw the application.

Negative Tweets affect Customer Loyalty

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

Yesterday an article appeared in several newspapers about how angry tweets (on Twitter) can force a company to back off a geographically localized program intended to promote good will. A franchisee of Tim Hortons, a coffee shop competitor of Starbucks, in Rhode Island agreed to provide free coffee for a local program, celebrating Marriage and Family Day. It turns out the sponsors of the program were against gay marriage and this brought out the gay community and those supporting the gay community in droves. A petition was electronically signed by about 2000 followers and angry ‘tweets’ and facebook entries were broadcast, often at the rate of several per minute.

In a recent article by Jerry Langdon on July 30, 2009, called ‘Word of tweet: How it can make or break the box office’, the power of social media to spread word of mouth on a movie review is highlighted. With social media like Twitter, consumers can spread their opinion about the movie to thousands of people, even while the movie is underway, impacting sales dramatically in either a positive or negative direction.

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