Interview with Mike Klanac, CEO of GripeO

Mike Klanac

Mike Klanac

If you read this blog regularly, you know that I keep stressing the major role an audience plays in the success of any business. Of particular importance is the way you address complaints.

Unfortunately, we are all very busy and spotting these complaints can be a chore. For customers, it means a lot of work, often for nothing.

Enters GripeO. 

I came across this tool a couple of months ago on Twitter and the slogan (“A Better Way to Complain”) intrigued me. So , I sent a few questions to Co-Founder and CEO, Mike Klanac. The interview is below.

Q1: Hello Mike, thank you for answering my questions. First, who are you? 

A1: My career began in corporate software development delivering ERP solutions in Higher Education.  I think a lot of people in that position lay awake at night dreaming about making their own solution one day – and it led to me choosing the start up path, something I’ve found more personally rewarding than anything in my life outside of my family and friends.

Q2: Is there a particular event that triggered your desire to create GripeO?

A2: There is, but I cringe a little in telling it because it’s not the “great story” that investors sometimes like you to lead with.

I was cutting a pizza with a supposed “top quality” German engineered (American branded) knife. It snapped in half, and thus began a 2 month customer service odyssey to get a refund. I honestly wouldn’t have had the intestinal fortitude to continue the fight if my wife hadn’t motivated me. You fight through enough call centers, dropped calls, transfers, social media, long web forms, and confusing contact pages – you just want to give up.  That’s the story that resonates though - everyone knows those feelings.

Q3: Why such a name?

A3: We selected GripeO because it’s descriptive (Gripe) and short (6 characters).  It’s just about quirky enough to remember.  For those watching Silicon Valley on HBO – we did not go on a vision quest!

Q4: Could you give us a brief overview of GripeO?

A4: GripeO is a Website and Mobile app for Consumers and Businesses. Consumers can submit feedback for any business in one consolidated location, from the convenience of their PC or Mobile device. If the Company is verified with GripeO, we take the complaint right to them. If they’re not, we allow the Consumer to submit the issue to all of their social networks, with appropriate tagging and context to raise the visibility of the issue.

Our tool set is complete with a full help desk – and gives Businesses a free way to mediate issues AND utilize the convenience of mobile.

We’re about to release a ton of new features, such as the Complaint Marketplace, where ignored complaints can be purchased by competitive companies as leads. We’re also building a “Social Customer Service Directory” so you’ll know exactly how to reach the biggest brands out there socially, or, optionally, just fire the complaint through GripeO directly. GripeO

Q5: A lot of brands are still behind when it comes to providing good social customer care. What role does GripeO play in “redressing the balance”? 

A5: For awhile, Twitter as a Customer Service tool was a hot topic, and we think it skewed reality a bit. Not every company has a Twitter that can handle customer service, and those that do, aren’t all very good at it. Many consumer don’t get it either – the concept of @’ing and hashtagging, or giving the business enough context. 140 characters is limiting in this sense.

At the end of the day, the main thing I want to highlight here, is that PUBLIC customer service feedback has the potential to be very detrimental.  It’s an echo chamber of your business being blasted and cussed out. GripeO is betting that consumers want a place as convenient as Twitter to push feedback, but that is optimized for a business as well – to both mediate the issues, but protect their brand identity in a PRIVATE customer service arena.

Trolling is somewhat of a phenomenon…  GripeO solves problems for your everyday app user, and thousands of businesses.

Q6: Anything you would like to add?

I’d really like to thank you for covering us.

It’s an exciting time to sign up for GripeO, and you can do so at these links.  We love our Users, and our Businesses (for which there are now several Billion dollar companies using GripeO) and we’d love to hear your feedback!

GripeO on the Web: http://www.gripeo.com
GripeO on iOS: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/gripeo/id820393733?mt=8
Have a Business that’s interested in social customer service?  Claim your business at: http://www.gripeo.com/businesses

Comments

  1. says

    What a great idea- GripeO. I hope it takes off as so many companies are behind on using social media for customer service and this is a great step forward for those complaining. Getting refunds and making complaints that are actually heard is difficult even with so many options for communication. Taking the public route is definitely more productive, in my experience. I’ll be watching GripeO to see how they grow. 

  2. Ethel Van Zanten (Patty) says

    Did I understand your blog right when you said that the complaints that you handle are kept in
    private? You see I think alot of times people have complaints that aren’t very clear when they write about
    them. Do make the consumer that is complaining write a clear and concise reason why they have a complaint/
    This is what is needed. When this happens many times a complaint can be handled by the consumer himself. He realizes that he has a solution.

  3. says

    Mary – Thank you for following our progress!

    Ethel – You are correct that presently GripeO complaints are private, outside of some small previews.  We’re working hard to improve the efficiency of consumer complaints.  It’s hard to be effective in limited characters, but it can be done – look at Twitter!

  4. says

    I like learning from Cendrine Marrouat.
    I think it is wonderful Mike Klanac, for you to give people a voice. I appreciate the comment above by Ethel Van Zanten (Patty) that very often that within the question (complaint) very often the client finds the solution.  I enjoy the idea that when this does not occur GripeO may help. 
     I shared this article here with thX http://www.scoop.it/t/4businessand-life/p/4020190735/2014/04/24/interview-with-mike-klanac-ceo-of-gripeo

  5. says

    Thanks Mary.  One interesting thing to note is that while Twitter is exploding with customer service usage, it’s not without growing pains.  For example, people often hashtag/handle call out incorrectly, or reference the wrong company all together.  Businesses themselves are struggling to adapt.  At the end of the day, by improving the efficiency of communication, and offering a simple way to supply feedback privately, we’re trying to provide value and serve consumers & businesses alike.  Thanks for your support and feedback!

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