PublikDemand is a startup that coordinates public demands by consumers to brands. The startup gives brands a social media-powered call to change practices that customers don’t approve of.
Social media and customer relationship management services are helping to bridge the gap between brands and consumers, but sometimes the reach only goes one way. Larger corporations, or even other successful businesses, have a history of being less than responsive to complaints. Recently launched startup PublikDemand was created in response to this divide after co-founder and CEO Courtney Powell experienced a particularly extended, and expensive charge with Time Warner Cable. Built to bring transparency and culpability to brand practices, the Mountain View-based startup coordinates Demands on customers’ behalf, and uses social media to spread the word. The process will be familiar to users of various social network activism groups, such as Change.org.
Organizing customer complaints…
PublikDemand has only been online since March, and their primary focus is on giving customers the tools to react when they feel like they are being bullied. Many of the companies named in Demands thus far have been telcom corporations - AT&T for data throttling, Comcast for violating Net Neutrality, etc. PublikDemand describes their mission is “to help consumers take back the power from corporations who treat their customers capriciously, depending on the difficulty of getting resolution to complaints through a bureaucracy designed to thwart consumers.” In addition to telcoms, the site is heavily populated with bank entries, which suggests that many customers make demands because the usual retaliations are limited.
To pressure Fortune 1000 companies into changing policies
But since Powell describes her organization as “the Better Business Bureau of the digital age” on TheNextWeb, it is likely she intends to give companies a forum to respond to Demands, or possibly cooperate with the website and gain trusted status, as they can with the BBB. In the meantime, however, the hope is that organizing collective customer complaints will put pressure on companies and urge them to deal with the issue and even take action – like change a policy. Instead of relying on endless voicemail trees and tautological customer service to dodge complaints, brands will have to adapt to a new environment where individuals are organized and their complaints are collective.