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Make or Break

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(Laughing) Enough about the weather, because we have really exciting guest joining us today, Amber, you met him many years ago in a bar, back in Canada. Amber: Many, many years, before he was famous. Sarah: It's Dave Carroll. You might know Dave from a little song he sung, called "United breaks Guitars" But he does all sorts of other stuff. He joins us now. Dave Carroll, welcome to "The Social Hour"! Dave: Hi Sarah, Hi Amber! Amber: Hey Dave, Thank you for joining us. I know you have a new business right now that we want to talk about, "Gripevine", which was one of our "ratified segments" earlier on at "The Social Hour" But let's go back to that time when you did the "United breaks Guitars"-Video just set this up a little bit for us terms of how you were inspired with the idea and maybe even the shock in terms of how successful that was and how many people are watching that. DC: Yeah, sure. I was inspired to write the song after I had a really bad customer service experience with United Airlines. It started with a flight to Nebraska on March 31st, 2008 And my video came out of the fact that after 9 month of trying to get United to take some responsibility for what was my broken Taylor guitar, they would't do anything but close the conversation. So I was left with two options: to either 1) walk away and do nothing or 2) do something else. And my "something else" was to make three music videos and three songs about my experience and post them on YouTube with the goal of getting one million hits within the next year with all three videos combined. And... on July 6th 2009 I put the first video up at 11.30 pm and went to bed that night half an our later with 6 hits and by Friday of that week I had a million hits on the first video alone. -- Wow, that is incredible Q: Do you think it's because.. I mean: the song is awesome... it's really well done ... the video is fun ... but it's actually something that so many people can relate to, whereas if you have a very bad customer-service-experience and try as you might, you can't get them to pay any attention to you even though you've been wronged? DC: Oh, absolutely. The song resonated with everybody, and I do a lot of speaking now to corporations and organizations around the world to talk about customer service, social media and branding. I open my presentation by asking a question: "who here in the audience has had a bad airline experience or knows somebody who has?" And everywhere in the world, fom Siberia to Mexico or Australia they all put up their hand, and that's one of the key reasons why this song was so successful. Q: Let's talk a little bit about the damage that this video did to United. There are many reports out there, including one that I read on the BBC I believe six month or a year ago, that talked about millions of millions of Dollars that this particular video did damage to United's reputation. Can you give us a better sense of the overall damage in terms of how you've experienced it over the years? DC: Yes, you 're right. The BBC announced that - and so did The Economist magazine - that it had dropped United stock by ten percent, or 180 Million Dollars, for a short amount of time. And I think it's difficult to say that the video did all of that, but it did something, I am sure that United lost more market capitalization than other airlines at that time. and it would probably be attributed to that song. In terms of Dollars, that's one thing, but I think in terms of branding, ... ... today brands have to be really careful about how they treat their customers because this is the perfect example that shows that one person can do something that could forever affect your brand There are people around the world now who can't see a United plane without thinking "United breaks Guitars" and nothing they can ever do will change that. and fortunately it was a funny song and if they offer a cheap flight, they'll still get customers. But you have to be careful of your branding. Your brand is the ... I guess, ... ... the sum of the conversations that are happing about it. and "United breaks Guitars" changed the conversations to something that they probably didn't like. Q: We should probably move over to GRIPEVINE. This is ... You have almost set it up perfectly. This is a service that Amber and I have talked about here at "The Social Hour" in the past but you're directly involved with buildin' and it is a place where not only someone like me to say: "Listen, United did something ..." ... unvorgivable ... I had a terrible experience ... Here's what happened: Here is why I want to be reimbursed for my flight ... whatever ... But it also gives ... United an opportunity to respond to me and try to rectify things. How does GRAPEVINE work? DC: Well, there's two sides to the equation that my partners and I identified and realized: I have nothing against businesses, and we are all customers to somebody so businesses exist because we need them. And a lot of them do great things. There is the customer side, the consumer side. And as customers we all want to be able to get what we expect. and what we were promised. So, for Grapevine on the consumer side, we offer an opportunity for people who have had bad customer service experience to go there, air their gripe, share with people what happened they could do it either by writing in we also encourage creativity, so video can be hosted there as well. It's very simple. You open up a page very quickly and an account, ... state your gripe, you "plant" your gripe, and then Gripevine's social media tools take your gipe to decision makers at the right spot. So you don't have to spend hours and minutes in a customer service maze. Depending on what the company does - either they'll help you, or they don't - ... at the end of the cycle the customers get to rate the customer service from the companies through a customer satisfaction index. And every company in the world will have a page that has a customer satisfaction index at the top corner. And that will be shown as a letter grade, from A to F and every customer has a voice and contributes to the grade like a better business buero. so there is an incentive now on the business side to embrace this because more and more people are turning to social media to answer customer service problems, and it's not even what the issue is today. It is what is it going to be in ten years. It will probably be a hundredfold in terms of the number of complaints that are going through social media. So businesses need a tool that can handle the influx of social media complaints and conversations. and Gripevine does that. It monitors all conversations, just like Radian6 might do. but it also manages all the gripes into something that a company can use and assign certain agents to, prioritize certain gripes and make it all manageable for them. Q: Can you give us an example of a company that has taken advantage of this? based on a gripe that has come in and how it has helped them fix a problem that they have had in place? DC: We are just in the very, very early stages. We just launched two weeks ago. And we are just in the process of signing up a lot of companies. But there are thousands of people who have now signed up to gripevine and are airing some complaints, getting attention because of it. I have one United-story, and it's partially because of Gripevine and partially because they have reached out to me personally, but the potential is there, and that's what I find exciting. And there is a customer, he tried every level he was told to do, similar to what I had experienced and I connected him with somebody at the upper echelons of United, through Gripevine and his situation was solved. So ... so United is not a customer of Gripevine's today, but they could very well be very soon, and the system does work at getting the message out. The message was planted on Gripevine I just connected the two people, the matter was dealt with inhouse. Q: Do you plan to charge businesses for having Gripevine accounts, so that they can manage the influx of issues that customers might be having. I love the idea of you putting me in touch with United, but that almost seems too easy for me. DC: RIght. The whole business model is on the revenue generating side by subscription. It will always be free for consumers and there will always be a free component for companies. and depending on how robust a solution you want it goes up from $100 to over five thousand Dollars per month. For huge companies our upper echelon is a drop in the buckett. compared to what it offers. So we are keeping our prices low enough that we are hoping that all companies might consider using Gripevine some day. Q: I also wanted to talk about your book. I've just realized that you have a book coming out in June, "United Breaks Guitars. The Power of One Voice in the Age of Social Media" Many people have heard your story. How does the book take people on the journey and continue that dialogue? DC: The book "United Breaks Guitars. The Power of One Voice in the Age of Social Media" was published by Hayhouse Publishing. It comes out in mid May. And Hayhouse is more of a self-empowerment house than, say, a business publishing company. So that speaks to the breadth of the story. But I take people through the background. How it is that I was on my way to Nebraska, More detail that I am normally able to give in a short 2 or 3 minute interview. some of the ins and outs, And then through the media frenzie that followed. I also go through what my life growing up was like, just by showing some examples how our Dad used to sing to us when we were younger. His policy was always: If you don't know the music, you play louder, and if you don't know the words, you sing louder. And don't let those things get in the way of stopping you. I took that philosophy of "Just do it!" And I brought that into our music career then into the "United Breaks Guitars"-story. About how not waiting until I had enough money to make a really high quality video. I made the most of what I had. And then I go into some of the examples what United's reaction was to this and finish off with the Big Lesson to me: is not that it was a "David and Goliath"-story, but that we are all connected as people, and that Social Media does not connect us as we say it does, I think we are connected as people first, and Social Media actually only allows us to experience that connection more readily. So, by casting a wide net, like I did because we are all connected as people, I was able to reach a wider audience than I ever thought possible and that philosophy can help businesses, if you do the same. Q: People who watch "The Social Hour" sometimes wonder, depending on your reach, you might have more success with a really big company like United, or it could be any large company where it's difficult to get somebody on the phone for customer support and you could feel frustrated if you don't have a lot of followers on the social networks that you're really trying to put a lot of effort into for "United Breaks Guitars" was there a website that had picked up the video overnight that helped you skyrocket to so many views in such a short period of time? DC: When I woke up on the Tuesday morning of that week there was only, I think, about 300 hits and by noon it was 5000 and I had heard that the "Consumerist" website had started that started to light up, so the traction there, Amber, really started to help up It wasn't just the Consumerist but early on I have received emails from people who said "you gotta check this out. The Consumerist is talking about it". and that gave it credibility and likes, I think. How has your life changed since all of this happend? When I first met you, you were playing - I believe in a small bar in (Canada) and you were mainly focused on music so: How have things changed in your day-to-day-life Since all of this fame after putting this video online and it becoming viral? DC: It changed everything and that's part of the entertaining aspect of the book and when I do a keynote because I talk about all that stuff. There is a self-empowerment story about what you can achieve with 150 Dollars, some passion and being on the right side of right. I went from being a singer-songwriter as part of Sons of Maxwell and a solo career writing songs and performing for myself I was successful. I have traveled the world doing all that. but instantly millions of people knew who I was that I was a singer-songwriter and a lot of those people went looking for other things that I have recorded and so, Sons of Maxwell and my solo-career benefitted from that from sales and new fans from around the world that we never would have had So, social media, right there, has allowed me to reach 150 million people now with my story. and if you can sell your story to people, they may be more interested to buy what you have to sell. So that's one of the lessons. I have never really done much speaking. If you recall seeing Don and I playing, Amber, you might remember that never really did a lot of talking Amber: I do remember that (laughing). DC: But I am quite busy now doing talks all over the world, And I enjoy that a lot! And this book: I have never written anything until this year to be published so I am really honored and exited about that. And Gripevine is an outlet to do something for other people and be of service in a way that makes me feel good and takes the platform I had with "United Breaks Guitars" and allows me to use it for the betterment of other people, I think. and allows me to use it for the betterment of other people, I think. Amber: Excellent! Thank you so much for joing us It was a real treat to talk to you We've talked about this story before, it is an amazing story, Congratulations again on your second child! Get to that Ultrasound, or you're not going to have a happy wife! We're excited to get a hold of your book later this year. And please come and join us again once we have had a chance to read it so we can talk about social media and how to use it for the greater good. Thanks Sarah, thanks Amber! See you later! Thanks Dave, take care! S: Amber, I love this story, because Dave was already a very talented musician! He war touring, he was singing for people, he was happy It's so great that he was able to He was probably very frustrated. he has the smashed guitar, he has a really bad day, and decides, "Instead of kicking in the door, I'll put together something that is kind of humorous, but a very factual account of what happened." Using the talents that he already has gets a lot of attention because people can identify with him, and all of a sudden now, like he said, his life is completely different, and it gave him a good idea to start Gripevine to help other people to have their voices heard. It's such a great story! Amber: I think, over the years studying social media and talking about it that this is probably a classic stories of social media gone wrong for a company. and its also amazing, because Dave Carroll, his music, like he mentioned he was relatively successful but the reality is: it's not as though he was considered to be an influencer or early adopter in the social media world. he didn't have a ton of people following him on social sites and this really helped him skyrocket into the spotlight very quickly great story, a treat to talk to him. I use the story a lot in case studies so it's great to hear his experience in terms of what exactly happened and what he has turned it into. some people, it might have happened to them, and they write it out and it just tapers off but he has built a really strong career based on the fame of this one video. Sarah: Absolutely! Dave is obviously a very nice person but you could tell, that he was like: "Yeah, I got my voice heard, I am proud of that! I think other people should do more of that, too." And I think he is right. The advice I always give to people because I have experienced it in my own life, when companies wrong you, when you feel that you have been wronged, you have to persevere. Maybe they'll pay attention to you right away. But chances are, they won't, and you might have to be a little noisier on twitter, call them back on customer service a little bit more, those are the sorts of things ... - and when you have other people that are rallying behind you it gives you momentum. Unfortunately, somethimes you just have to be noisy. and Dave was able to be noisy in actually a really pleasing way. It's a great song! By the way: Did you know that "United Breaks Guitars" at one time was at the iTunes-UK top of their country music charts? Amber: Are you serious? - Sarah: Yeah, it was No. 1 Amber: Wow, I didn't know that. It's hilarious. Sarah: So again - people like the song. Amber: Yeah, it's got a great beat to it, it's a lot of fun, so... I guess, it shouldn't be too much of a surprise. Very cool! Sarah: Very cool, indeed. is his website if you want to know a lot more about Dave, and awards that he has won and what he is up to when he is not working on the project we have been talking about today. Busy guy! So we thank him for visiting us on "The Social Hour"

Video Details

Duration: 17 minutes and 42 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Genre: None
Views: 41
Posted by: mybigfive on Apr 29, 2012

Dave Carroll on about his experience with United Airlines Customer Care and what followed.

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