Ecomom, a small online company that sells eco-friendly baby products, uses Klout scores within the CRM tool Assistly. When an Ecomom customer signs up for e-mail alerts or asks to review a product for a blog, the company will look at the person’s Klout score. “A lot of what goes on in the mom world is word of mouth,” says CEO and cofounder Jody Sherman. The Klout score “will allow us to determine if we introduce them to our standard referral, or whether we proactively reach out to them with something more beneficial: here’s $15 you can go spend with Ecomom.” Experience has confirmed the value of the score, Sherman says, because customers with higher Klout scores tend to refer more new customers than those with low scores.
Still, the loudest voices are not necessarily the ones with the biggest followings, says Yany Grégoire, a professor at HEC Montreal, the business school of Université de Montréal. Grégoire, who has researched about 1,000 instances in which angry customers retaliated against a company on social-media sites, finds that the most vehement complainers are once-loyal customers who have two bad experiences with a company’s customer service—what he calls a “double deviation.” Besides, any rant can turn into a social-media phenomenon: when a relatively unknown musician named David Carroll made a video about United Airlines called “United Breaks Guitars,” he put it on YouTube and got 10 million views. Rather than measuring Klout scores, Grégoire recommends that companies more carefully monitor their loyal customers, take note of the number of times any person has called customer service, and study their experience each time. “Just empower your frontline people,” he says.