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Noah Tepperman shows Globe readers how to engage in web forums PDF Print E-mail
Written by Michael J. Knell   

WINDSOR, Ontario (06 March 2012) - It's not often that an independent full-line furniture retailer is featured on the home page of the Globe & Mail web site, particularly when the subject is social media. But Noah Tepperman has learnt how to be a player in social media because that's where the customers are.

In a story published in the national newspaper's Report on Small Business section, writer Ivor Tussell explains how Tepperman - a third generation partner in the four-unit Tepperman's Furniture based here - grappled with a series of complaints shared by unhappy customers on a web forum called N49.ca.

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Noah Tepperman
N49.ca is dedicated to reviewing Canadian small businesses. Unlike Facebook and Twitter, this simpler, older web forum offers the opportunity to interact with customer posting a complaint.

According to Tussell's report, complaints were be posted on the site at a rate of about one each month. While a tiny percentage of the 85-year old retailer's customer base, it's a sufficient number to create a bad impression among consumers about to begin the shopping process.

"It's one of the No. 1 challenges I find myself faced with," Tepperman told the Globe & Mail. "I'm supremely confident that the number of happy customers dwarf[s] the number of unhappy customers."

The article details Tepperman's effort to engage with his customers... "trying to set things right where need be, and standing his ground in other cases. (In one case, he gently but frankly explained that he couldn't replace a dryer on which a customer had noticed a dent - after the customer had left it in a renovation zone for three months.)

"It wasn't easy - and his travails are on the record for everyone to see - but Mr. Tepperman found a payoff: One former complainant, unbidden, came back to praise his outreach and update her complaint with a happy ending," Tussell wrote, adding, "Now, the top result on the site under his firm's name is effusive praise for his responsiveness."

Navigating the pitfalls of social media is tough enough for the vast majority of retailers. Doing so to defend your company's honour only adds to the difficulties. Click here to read about Tepperman's experiences as related to Ivan Tussell and the Globe & Mail.

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