Houston’s GripeO Markets Online Customer Service Platform

5/6/14Follow @angelashah

Social media is chockablock with complaints from consumers less than satisfied with products and services. But one Houston startup says it has a platform that makes it more likely those #badservice hashtags will get the attention of the purported offenders.

Launched in early March, GripeO is a website and a mobile app designed to standardize the complaint process, making it easier and more effective for consumers to engage businesses about their product or service issues, says Mike Klanac, the startup’s CEO and co-founder.

Right now, people can voice concerns or frustrations on sites like Yelp, Twitter, and Facebook. But complaints on those sites may not achieve a critical mass that’s enough to prompt businesses to respond, Klanac says. Unhappy consumers can also contact companies directly, of course. But Klanac argues that customer service websites and phone messaging systems are difficult to navigate—and, even if people can leave messages, they don’t know if their complaints will ever be seen by someone who could help.

GripeO is designed to solve these problems. “We consolidate all of these platforms in one location where you send complaint in the same exact way,” he says. “We find that you get a lot more feedback.”

Klanac says GripeO will contact the offending business if that business is “verified” with the site, that is, they sign up to GripeO and agree to contact the customer within two weeks of receiving a complaint. So far, the site’s 60-plus verified companies include Dish Network, Dell Computer, Reliant Energy, and the Buffalo Niagara International Airport. (If a business is not verified, GripeO users can enter complaints on the site and then simultaneously share them with as many social media sites as they like in one go.)

I asked Klanac what would prompt an unverified business to connect with GripeO, especially one that has, perhaps, a lackluster response rate to customer complaints in the first place?

Klanac says that’s exactly why GripeO is launching in June a “complaints marketplace,” something that might ratchet up companies’ competitive spirit with each other. GripeO will sell the portfolio of accumulated complaints, as well as the customers’ contact information, to competitors seeking to lure those customers away.

Right now, GripeO is free to users. The company plans to make money by selling complaints for 25 cents each to interested buyers, i.e., a business’s competitors. They also will sell three service packages ranging from $5 to $250 a month. The basic package gives businesses a report that will include an overview of types of complaints a … Next Page »

Angela Shah is the editor of Xconomy Texas. She can be reached at ashah@xconomy.com or (214) 793-5763. Follow @angelashah

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