Social Media Complaints (the basics)

By Nov.17, 2011

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A recent U.S survey found that only 29% of consumer complaints received via twitter were responded to. In this blog post, I would like to speak to the 71% of companies who have chosen not to respond to their customers and explain why they should take the time to engage and how.

Why should you engage with customers who complain about you via Social Media?

Now, I’m not pretending that I am expert in customer service but being a consumer myself I would expect that if your customers are talking about your brands/products or services my hope is that you would want to know about it? Just as your phones are picked up and emails are responded to, I see Social Media as another channel of communication…albeit a very public one!  Social Media is undoubtedly a very valuable tool which gives you access to free and honest feedback and it’s a great platform for showcasing how fantastic your customer service is…you really are missing a trick if you are not taking full advantage!

One example of companies who are engaging with their customers is Silver Cross and Kiddicare. Here we have a very simple request for a contact number as the customer has a fault with her new Silver Cross Pushchair which she had purchased from Kiddicare (an online retailer) – click on the image to view the full Complaint story:

Social Media Complaint Example­­

You will notice that even though the first tweet was not directed to @SilverCross_UK , they still managed to find and reply to the customer, apologising effectively. Later in this post I will explain a couple of online tools Silver Cross may have used in order to locate this complaint. The main point I want to make here is that a customer publicly declared she had a faulty product but rather than the problem escalating and resulting in further mentions of the Silver Cross or Kiddicare brand in a bad light, the companies sought to rectify the problem and even received positive public feedback as a result. Remember, it is highly likely that customers who complain via social media have friends connected to them who are also within your target audience. If your friends/family were to mention a brand in a bad light, are you likely to try their products/services?

Monitoring your Social Media – The basics

The first thing you need to be doing is monitoring what people are saying about your brand or services. It’s not spying as such….it’s just being aware….a bit like neighbourhood watch if you like…

There are hundreds of free tools out there which you can use to monitor social media content which you can then analyse and collate vital data from. Remember in my earlier example you saw that Silver Cross were able to locate and respond to the customer even though the tweet was not directed to their twitter name…. well, it’s highly likely they were using media monitoring tools which seek out where-ever and whenever their brand name is mentioned on a variety of social media platforms. Here are just a handful of top pick social media monitoring tools::

  • Google Alerts – Works by sending you an email every time a new item pops up in Google search with your chosen keyword. (i.e Silver Cross may have one set up for their brand name plus any of their products)
  • Board Reader – Forum search engine which seeks out ‘human to human’ discussions
  • Social Mention – Tracks blogs, blog comments, news, twitter, images, videos and can bes saved as RSS feeds
  • Yahoo Pipes – This is a bit more complex but it’s really useful as it enables you to Aggregate, Manipulate and Mashup data (so it basically picks-out the relevant bits data and put it all in one place!)

Have a browse on this list collated by Social Brite which brings together their top 20 social media monitoring tools, have a bit of a play and find out what tools work best for you. There are loads of YouTube video’s that can help you get the best out them. You can even use twitter itself my simply typing your brand name into the search box!!

Responding to Social Media complaints

Responding to a Social Media Complaint is a subject very much up for debate (no rhyming intended!). The best thing to do is analyse the data you have collected from monitoring your social media and collate a list of common issues which can be resolved quickly such as the example above where the customer could be directed to a telephone number or email address. For more complex or urgent issues (at your discretion) you could ask the customer to PM (Private Message) you their details and take it from there.

Don’t just use your social media platforms with replies to user comments though… you want to engage and break up the customer service with interesting updates – share articles, talk about current topics related to your market and encourage conversations and above all show humanity! You want be conveying that this channel of communication is open and you are comfortable connecting to your customers.

Top Social Media Responding tips here

Uh Oh…it went viral!!

One recent example where a social media complaint has escalated is with Waitrose, which can read more about on The Drum. This emotionally fuelled complaint went viral with masses of people demanding action. Although the complaint was acknowledged very early on, there must have been so much subsequent dialog that Waitrose voice had been lost through the digital crowds. I would suggest that in these situations you keep your customers well informed and ride the social media wave until it passes, and it will!

I will just leave you with a question….

As a consumer yourself, would you or have you ever openly complained via social media?

You can connect to me by:

  • Leaving a comment below.
  • Connecting with me on LinkedIn.
  • Following the #ssmm tag on Twitter for useful tips and connections.
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5 thoughts on “Social Media Complaints (the basics)

  1. Funnily enough I have just taken my dissatisfaction and anger out with TalkTalk on their Facebook wall today. Considering they won’t let me speak to a manager on the phone I have publicly vented my anger on their wall for everyone to see. It will now be interesting to see if they respond and turn my negative feedback into a positive outcome.

    A thoroughly enjoyable read and very informative. Well done, you are a natural blogger Danielle!

  2. Danielle_Adams says:

    Thanks Anthony! Appreciate the comments :-) I hope TalkTalk have done their homework and get a reply to you!

  3. Anjlee says:

    Congratulations on your first #ssmm blog post and I think Ken’s video works really well in this context.

    I have definitely had more than one occasion where voicing opinions & writing negative reviews on social media has been the ‘final straw’ and the best means of warning others from personal experience.

    It has been said that it is now everyone’s responsibility to make businesses accountable in the public eye, where advertising standards, business ethics and organisational standards have failed to protect the consumer.

    My concern with complaints voiced on social platforms is motivation: whether complaints are justified, honest and present an accurate picture of the event/experience. Otherwise, issues of libel, slander, and misuse of intellectual property can start to muddy the waters.

  4. Keith Adams says:

    Great post. Very interesting.

    From a consumer perspective, raising complaints about products, services or brands via Social Media is the digital equivalent of standing at the customer checkout in a retail outlet and telling all of their customers your story…….. but a little less confrontational!!!!

    One of the main differences from a consumer point of view is that it enables you to get a much wider reach than via a single retail outlet which in turn can mean a ‘minor’, negative complaint can quickly escalate to a major issue for a brand (I had the same problem…… etc).

    Apart from the online viral effect, it can also escalate and lead to considerable exposure on other non digital media channels (including TV!!!)

    These are the reasons why brand and reputation monitoring via social media are now an essential part of a customer services strategy for any company, not just digital brands.

    This will ultimately lead to an improvement in Customer Service levels and the elimination of less reputable companies who have little consideration for their customers

    From a company perspective, effective reputation management via social media can represent a great opportunity to position their brand as a caring, customer service led organisation, leading to enhanced brand reputation, increased loyalty and the creation of advocates who actively promote their brand. This will ultimately lead to more sales.

    Organisations can also use social media as an effective communication channel, thereby reducing the number of complaints/issues by for example developing intelligent (auto update when an issues is answered so the question does not need to be re-answered) and comprehensive knowledgebase’s, asking opinions, encouraging feedback, promoting wish lists etc. Apart from developing more suitable products which match the customer needs, it reduces support costs and improves the customer experience should an issue arise.

  5. Anjlee says:

    Hi Danielle,

    Today, I came across the following article which serves as a great companion piece to your post and focuses on the British perspective:

    Brits using social media to vent frustrations, but is anyone listening? http://www.inspiresme.co.uk/news/marketing/brits-using-social-media-to-vent-frustrations,-but-08050/

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