New smartphone app
Complain App is a new consumer advocacy application free for Android and iPhone users that uses social media to get word out and hopefully resolve issues with businesses in a public way.
The app isn’t exactly innovative and the clip art-esque gap toothed creatures depicting users and businesses are odd, and the user experience has garnered mixed reviews online, but advocacy for consumers is important, and Complain App is a step in the right direction.
The challenge, however, is that most of the consumer world doesn’t understand that if you have a complaint about a RE/MAX agent, their complaint will not merit a personal phone call from Margaret Kelly. The structure of real estate is far more independent than the retail world, so complaints against Realtors may go unanswered and users may become disillusioned.
How the app works
Users load the app, search for a company they want to complain about, select from a list of complaints (or edit to create their own) and hit send. The complaint is automatically delivered to the companies’ Twitter account as they believe that to be the fastest way to garner attention from a company. Facebook and email are among the options given to users as well.
One iPhone app user reviewed the app, saying “I must say I was excited about this app at first. But when I issued my first complaint and a message was sent to all my twitter friends about my complaint soliciting their help in it, that killed it for me. I thought this app was one that “I” could use, but not if it will solicit or try to recruit my friends. That’s pretty rude, guys.”
We see Twitter as the delivery mechanism to be problematic not only for the reasons cited by the user above, but again, because of the structure of business sectors like real estate that revolves around independent contractors.
Why can’t users just complain via Twitter on their own? Why download the app in the first place? Complain App would likely say it is because their app allows users to see other complaints and can retweet those complaints to further their cause when they feel wronged, like a ripple effect.
It will be interesting to see how apps like this (and those yet to come) will impact real estate as there could be a disconnect between users’ understanding of the structure of the industry and the reality of how it functions. Realtors should be aware of this consumer advocacy tool as a means of rectifying any complaints, or at least to know of another location to potentially monitor for brand damage.