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Channel your negative thoughts

A third of British consumers have vented their fury online as companies got it wrong. And that’s a very good thing...

Being connected allows us to take advantage of all sorts of things: above all else, the web is an exceptional source of information. Wikipedia allows those with a yen to do so to share their precise expertise, from how flight works to documenting every last media reference to Austrian singer Falco and his worldwide hit ‘Rock Me Amadeus’.

More academic pursuits, such as distance-learning qualifications and online video tutorials, are made possible via the web – as is everything from emailing, chatting and shopping to armchair travel. And if the web has done anything, it’s levelled the terms on which we can all share our opinions.

Google rankings ensure professional sites such as pcadvisor.co.uk appear in the first page of results for reviews of relevant product types, but the consumer is now just as likely to have their voice heard as the acknowledged expert. Customer ratings on Amazon, for example, carry as much weight as those from independent reviewers.

Few industries provoke as much impassioned debate about design, build quality, performance and features as consumer electronics. Rarely do we express a dispassionate opinion without being taken to task by our readers. We invest an awful lot of ourselves in our gadgetry and the items we select say plenty about us.

Accordingly, it’s now common to find customer reviews alongside ‘expert’ ones; indeed, you’ll find many such instances on our own site, with the thousands of customer reviews we publish alongside our expert reviews.

If you’re in the hospitality business, it’s not just derision for an ill-chosen chassis colour or a poorly performing app you need to worry about. It’s the décor, the location, the friendliness of the receptionist and whether your chips were up to scratch, not to mention the behaviour of fellow guests.

Research by web-hosting company Fasthosts recently found that a third of us Brits have vented our ire at poor customer service and product purchases via the web. Forums, Facebook and Twitter are the most common outlets for our frustration – rather than the more obvious route of complaining directly to the company with which you have an issue.

Vendors dislike this public airing of issues that might otherwise be quietly and privately resolved, but Fasthosts also found a reluctance on the part of companies to engage with dissatisfied customers. This is shortsighted: those that took steps to tackle issues were praised for their willingness to try and get things right.

Being called out for your shortcomings is never pleasant, but doing so earns you respect, as well as helping you and your staff get it right next time. Companies that understand this often offer discounts and other incentives. It’s the 21st-century equivalent of the sign by the shop door enjoining customers to tell others if they’ve got things right – and them if they haven’t.

So at the risk of inciting negative comments with eventually positive outcomes for both customer and vendor, we’d like to invite you to have your say about the tech companies with which you’ve dealt. Your feedback will lead directly to plaudits and awards for the companies in question. So head to pcadvisor.co.uk/awards and tell us what you think. You’ll be doing everyone a favour.

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