Gripe, Resolve Complaints By Wielding Your Social Clout

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Gripe attempts to capitalize on the human propensity to complain about things as well as the increasing importance of online influence and power. Its location-based mobile app is based on the premise that people want the ability to press a button and resolve grievances towards local businesses and service providers.

Gripe uses as leverage a person’s online reach and influence, namely the number of Twitter and Facebook followers and the reach of those followers to turn “turn complainers into customers.” It also takes status badges on services like Tripadvisor into consideration as somewhat of a threat in order to get a service providers attention and resolve the problem.

Gripe users, using their real names, can either share a “Gripe” or a “Cheer” through the app as an incentive to get business owners to be more accommodating to search for businesses that you want to Gripe about. A business can claim their Gripe account and use it to resolve “Gripes.” Users can use the geolocation feature to find businesses to complain about.

Posting a “Gripe” creates a public page, that users can share on Facebook and Twitter. Sort of like an instant social Yelp, Foursquare and suggestion boxes combined, Gripe like Disrupt finalist Tello, is in burgeoning shared public feedback space.

Despite the somewhat negative connotations of the name, Gripe attempts to bring business owners into the process, giving them the opportunity to claim their accounts as well as the tools to help customers.

Founded by former Shopzilla founder Farhad Mohit, Gripe is currently self funded. Mohit plans on making money by charging companies to claim accounts, advertising, and donations.

The app isn’t even live yet, and Mohit is already seeing results, on recent trip to Burning Man the Gripe team had booked hotel rooms for 12 people, but the hotel manager actually gave them one room with two beds, “Our intern said wait a minute I’ve got this in my pocket, I’m going to start a Gripe” and the hotel manager got scared, the team eventually ended up with a free room and no resort fees.

Q&A:

AN: I like that it captures the heat of customer service. Have you thought of the community angle of this?

Gripe: Anonymous accounts won’t get followers, so it will encourage people to follow others.

C: how do you make money?

Gripe: We’re trying to scale Gripe, we’re trying to own this space. On the consumer side, we can offer a concierge like service for more active Gripe users.

MT: This sounds like social extortion, until you add the revenue piece this feels like a feature not a product.

Gripe: I disagree. When you show the gripe button the first time to a business or a consumer, they are going to react positively. And people are broadcasting this to their Facebook and Twitter friends, a manager does not want to be associated with a Gripe that is spreading.

PC: Seems like social extortion-it’s horrible.

EW: You are essentially kind of a dashboard. My fear is that you will have too many false threats.

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