Trouble with Your Vendor? Try Twitter

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Is your vendor giving you trouble? Won’t respond to your calls? Won’t help with your problem? Who you gonna call? Well, when I spoke to Brent Leary, a partner at CRM Essentials, yesterday, Leary surprised me when he suggested if your vendor won’t help you, go on Twitter, find a person with expertise in the problem area, and ask them. You might find you get an answer, but you may also find that by publicly calling out the company, you might actually get some attention.

We live in a Web 2.0 world, which means you have a variety tools at your disposal that can give you access to an audience, an expert or like-minded individuals in a way that simply wouldn’t have been possible in the past, and Leary thinks it’s something you should definitely use to your advantage. “It’s a new era,” Leary says. “The power is in our hands.” He points out that you don’t have to go the New York Times today if you have a problem you can’t solve because you have popular social media folks who are human beings and you can contact them directly on Twitter, LinkedIn or a similar site.

In fact, this method worked for Blog Herald writer Chris Garrett, who wrote an entry this week called It Pays to Twitter about how he used Twitter to get his vendor’s attention to resolve an issue he was having. Garrett wrote that when he “whined and moaned [on Twitter] about a certain service that is essential to [his] business,” his vendor took notice, contacted him and fixed the problem. He concludes, “So the moral of the story is if you have a problem, complain about it on Twitter!”

But Garrett is also quick to point out, that you should go through normal channels first. He’s right of course. It makes little sense to trash your vendor on Twitter or in your blog, or any public forum for that matter without trying the conventional approach first. But if your vendor proves unresponsive or difficult, you have options nowadays that don’t involve getting in front of microphones.

Anyone with a video camera, Leary points out, can produce a video, then use a forum such as YouTube to tell the world (or at least YouTube’s millions of viewers) their story. If it resonates, has humor or catches the fancy of viewers for whatever reason, you can get attention for your problem in a way that required a whole media company just a few years ago. It doesn’t require a huge investment or a giant infrastructure. All it takes is one person and a camera to tell your story.

So the next time your vendor gives you a hard time, won’t give you that feature you need or is generally disagreeable, you don’t have to take it. Use the tools available to you and publicize the problem to get help from others or simply get the vendor to do the right thing. Who knew 140 characters could be so powerful, but the fact is that sites like Twitter could change the way we do business.