Let me start with an apology for adapting the title of a beautifully written Beatles’ song (Here, There and Everywhere) for the purpose of writing this poorly written blog. The fact that you can get it as a ringtone doesn’t excuse me either.

This Friday 13th August is National Complaints Day in the UK. A little known fact I know. But for a nation that loves to queue, why shouldn’t we celebrate complaining? Ignore the non-sequitur.

Social media has fundamentally changed the nature of complaining. I can complain at anytime, from anywhere, and to anyone. The act of complaining is not limited to an email, a letter or a phone call between me and the company I am complaining about. It is no longer a closed interaction.

Complaining is a public act. It is a statement of intent: to right a perceived wrong. In so doing we are standing up to traditional paradigms and constructs. We are making public what was once private. In making this one act public, we are willing participants in continuing to turn over every aspect of our lives, the banality, the vulnerability, the frustrations and longings, the desires and deceits…

The convergence of technology, this desire to self-publish about all aspects of our lives, and the willing audience lapping it up. The theatre of the grotesque has given way to the theatre of the absurd and in turn we have ended up at the mundane.

Social media has allowed us all to create the greatest collective diary of 20th Century mankind and humanity, indexed by Google. Every detail of our lives is gradually being given up. Recorded for posterity on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, WordPress, Flickr, Spotify, TripAdvisor, Pownum, FourSquare… every aspect of our lives could be pieced together from what we eat, to when we sleep, to where we go, to who we meet, to what we wear, to what we think…to what we complain about.

And now we celebrate it.

And on Friday 13th August, this Friday, we celebrate complaints. And you can follow the celebrations by using the hashtag #ncd2010.

To mark the occasion I am holding a roundtable with a variety of people from a variety of industries.

  • Warren Buckley, BT, Managing Director Customer Service
  • Kevin Rousell, Ministry of Justice, Head of Complaints Management Regulations
  • Paul Hopkins, Thomas Cook, Director of Customer Service and Operations
  • Rob Skinner, PayPal UK, Head of PR
  • Heather Taylor, PayPal UK, Social Media and Community Manager
  • Michael Hill, ComplaintsRGreat Ltd, Founder
  • Qaalfa Dibeehi, Beyond Philosophy, Chief Operating Officer
  • Sullivan McIntyre, 6Consulting, Professional Services Manager
  • Guy Stephens, Senior Consultant, Foviance

I will be publishing the findings from the roundtable together with the audio of it online on Friday 13th August.

So join with me and celebrate complaints this Friday and celebrate the fact that for some of us, even if we can’t write song lyrics, we are at least lucky enough to be able to complain…

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