Handling Consumer Complaints Using Social Media

Let’s pretend it’s 10 years ago. How likely would you be to write a letter to Subway or Target complaining of the poor customer service you might have received? You probably wouldn’t bother, right? Now a days, it’s definitely a lot easier to “shout” about your bad experiences with certain companies.

As I mentioned in my previous blog post To Tweet or not to Tweet, “in today’s fast paced society, instant gratification is becoming a norm causing the ability to achieve immediate responses a necessity.” Companies now need to be able to promptly respond to complaints because it can become viral.

One great example of this is FedEx. We’ve all seen the video, days before Christmas a FedEx employee threw a customer’s  computer monitor over the fence. If you haven’t seen the video, it can be found HERE on YouTube. FedEx knew this wasn’t something that could be ignored, so they responded quickly and accepted it. They didn’t ignore it and they didn’t try to pass fault. Their response can be found HERE on YouTube.

It’s important to note here that they responded via the same channel that the complaint was registered. This is important for a couple of reasons. One reason it’s important to respond on the same channel is that it shows you’re monitoring your brand. If you get a Tweet complaining about your service and you send them a message on Facebook, it makes it seem that you found out through a 3rd party, possibly the newspaper or a random Facebook status, instead of on Twitter. Another reason is that the public will see it. Someone Tweets a complaint and you Tweet them back, the people seeing the complaint will see your response when they click on your name.

But, not every company handles complaints well. I want to take this moment to direct you to Priceline’s Twitter Page. When you pull it up, this is what you’ll see:
Priceline’s problem is that they don’t have a live person in charge of their Twitter, it’s a robot. A robot that is scanning Twitter for uses of Priceline’s name and automatically sends the exact same message to each of them. I know this because a little over a month ago I tweeted about them and how they seemed to have killed off William Shatner in their commercials. Their response was the exact one they constantly retweet. Their response made no sense and didn’t fit the conversation.

Just keep in mind not every single complaint needs to be addressed. In a perfect world we would be able to, but it’s just not practical. Otherwise you end up with a twitter account like Priceline’s. And no one should want customers to Google their company just to find complaints being answered with an automatic reply.


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