Friday, June 15, 2012

A Ongoing Lesson in Viral Social Media and Online Corporate Presence

Here's an update regarding my ongoing social media campaign to alert people about Mariden USA, the unscrupulous travel company with whom Heather, her students and I contracted to travel to Italy and Greece this past April.

There are larger lessons in this post about the power of viral social media and how responsible companies should respond to online feedback.

Early this morning I got an email from a teacher in Cecil County, MD, who received similar detestable customer service from Mariden USA. She saw my review on Yelp and contacted me to learn more details of our terrible experience. I eagerly shared the details, knowing that the more facts we share about Mariden USA's business practices, the more likely people will steer clear of contracting with them.

From a social media perspective, this information campaign is proving successful. People are getting valuable information, and sharing the facts has put Mariden USA on the defensive. But rather than react as a responsible would, or should, in this digital age, Mariden USA has resorted to the tired old strategy of maligning their accusers.

In terms of online corporate presence, Mariden USA has handled this as clumsily as it handled the planning and execution of our trip. Mariden USA has a Facebook page, but has disallowed comments. A company with nothing to hide freely invites comments.

On Mariden USA's website, all the testimonials are glowing. Yet a simple Google search reveals poor reviews (mine and others). This inconsistency merely underscores Mariden USA's duplicity.

Ask yourself: Does any company have 100% customer satisfaction? By seeking to hide or squelch truthful accounts of poor customer service, Mariden USA not only blinds itself to dissatisfied customers, but it also eliminates the opportunity to improve its customer service.