Social Scoop: Viral complaint sparks venue for griping 'Gripevine'

    5:27 PM, Jan 9, 2013   |    comments
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    LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - The man who complained about an airline breaking his guitar back in 2009 via a catchy country song has helped start up a social media venue for griping about customer service. Enter Gripevine.

    Musician and social media expert Dave Carroll produced "United Breaks Guitars" after claiming United Airlines had a poor response when he approached them about his guitar breaking on a flight. The video landed in Time Magazine's Top 10 Most Viewed Videos.

    Gripevine.com is a landing strip of sorts where customers can post complaints about shopping and customer service experiences. Once that gripe is posted, the website then notifies the targeted business and a manager is encouraged to build a free company page on Gripevine so that he or she can access contact information for the person who posted the gripe.

    In an email-based interview with THV 11 News, Carroll said "Gripevine is a fully realized version of what Richard Hue and I had set out to build; a platform that gives consumers the voice they require and incentives for companies to engage in meaningful dialogue. Fighting doesn't solve problems. Resolutions solve problems, and we designed Gripevine to skip the fighting and resolve disputes quickly for the benefit of all. It's gratifying to be involved in something that takes multiple challenges into consideration and improves the world."

    When you land on the homepage of Gripevine you see an entertaining cartoon (pictured to the side) with a description of the site alongside. It boasts that it is "simple, free and easy." By a few clicks of the mouse, the consumer can "plant" their gripe.

    A few of the companies to note that have profile pages on Gripevine are Verizon, Coca-Cola, Walgreens, and Hewlett Packard.

    More from Carroll's interview with THV 11's Jessica Johnson: 

    Was there a personal experience that led to the creation of Gripevine?

    When United Breaks Guitars was posted to YouTube I believed others would find it relatable. I wasn't prepared however for the outpouring of support I would receive and for how strongly so many people feel about their right to expect good service and products that meet expectations (if not exceed them).

    I received 10,000 emails in those early first weeks and aside from the encouragement and congratulations I received for doing something positive for customers, I discovered consumers everywhere are longing for an amplified voice and don't believe they have one.

    Is there an app? If not, do you see that coming in the future?

    Yes, there will be an iPhone and Android App as well as a Facebook app all in the works. Our goal is to get our new platform lunched first and begin launching the app's in the second quarter of 2013. Plans and designs are already in the works.

    Are companies becoming more aware of Gripevine? Have you seen a change in customer service due to this service?

    Absolutely, this is evident by company responses and resolutions in place monthly. We are a long way from changing the face of customer service in general because companies have to adapt changes internally for customer service to really change as an industry but have we seen positive embracement and amicable resolution through the Gripevine "complaint-resolution" platform, absolutely.

    According to the Wall Street Journal in December, Gripevine has raised $2 million in seed money from angel investors.

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