Klout: A Service Failure Episode

By Todd Bacile | May 13, 2012


Many Klout lovers and Klout haters have surfaced recently as the online social influence metric has gained popularity in the press. I for one happen to like Klout, and similar social popularity scoring engines. In today’s age Klout gives marketers access to a new type of information emerging from the social web. Having said all that, today Klout let me down and this post is a brief description of the event. As I write this I feel confident in saying I am not the only person Klout has failed in this manner.

This morning while on a brisk walk I received an e-mail from Klout: I had earned a Klout Perk. Companies are using these “perks” to offer free swag to influential consumers, in the hopes that after a free trial we (the influential consumers) will write, tweet, blog, and tell our masses of followers how much we enjoyed the product. This makes great business sense: go after the opinion leaders with some capacity to influence and let organic word-of-mouth reach the masses instead of paid advertising. Today’s email from Klout notified me that I qualified to receive a free 5-pack of an energy drink called EBoost.

I clicked the link from my e-mail message to go directly to my Klout Perks page. And this is where the fail occurred. The free perk I had qualified for, that Klout took the time to contact me via my e-mail only minutes before, was no longer available. Apparently, only so many freebie EBOOST perks were allocated by Klout – and that limit had already been reached. A couple of things I must clarify here. I feel that Klout failed me for two reasons: they contacted me via e-mail setting an expectation and within only a few minutes (i.e. less than one hour) after sending the email, the offer was no longer valid (at least for me). Now, I have seen many perks in the past that I was qualified to receive, yet were no longer available. But, none of these upset me because the offer was a few days old – meaning several influential Klout users had ample time to request the freebie – and Klout had not e-mailed me. The fail occurred because of the direct contact and the brief time frame.

This is classic services management 101 stuff. This semester I am teaching Service Operations Management at Florida State University. And a scenario like this is covered in an early chapter for the undergrads to understand how innovative services must be managed properly to avoid service failure situations. If you logically think about what occurred today with my Klout encounter, it is nearly identical to the following situation. While walking down the street a restaurant owner tells me “Hi Todd! Come on in and try this free sample.” Only, when I come in a few minutes later the owner says “Hey, sorry we ran out”, with no other apologies, rain checks, or attempts to make me avoid feeling like a meaningless number.

Klout is sitting on a mountain of data. As their site states they analyze 2.7 billion pieces of content on the social web per day. To frame this in a technology service delivery scenario, Klout could easily run the numbers to assess how many people qualify for a particular perk and how many people they choose to directly contact before working with a company like EBOOST. Klout and EBOOST can then decide how many freebies to initially give out. In today’s technology rich environment this is service delivery 101 stuff, and like I said, by the end of this week my undergrads, most of which have no business experience, will understand how to recognize such potential pitfalls in the service delivery process. Klout, I love you and am not trying to trash you. But try to work on the underlying details before setting high initial expectations that cannot be met for myself and other similar consumers. Has anyone else experienced an issue like this?  If so please post a comment below and /or RT this post.

Todd Bacile is a marketing doctoral candidate and instructor for Electronic Marketing and Services Marketing in the College of Business at Florida State University. He has published and presented numerous marketing studies in the areas of social media, mobile marketing, and services marketing at national and regional marketing conferences. When not working, he loves to cook BBQ on his smoker and always enjoys a good baseball trivia question. You can contact him on Twitter @toddbacile


2 thoughts on “Klout: A Service Failure Episode

  1. Pingback: Social Media Q&A: discussing social media jobs, social influence, Hootsuite & more « Todd Bacile's Marketing Blog

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