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One in five customer complaints to companies through social media survey finds


By The Drum Team, Editorial

December 16, 2011 | 3 min read

One in five consumers are using social media to vent their frustrations, but less than half ever receive a response, new research has found.

Research conducted by Sage UK among 2,000 consumers found that 22% of consumers would complain to a company using social media when they receive a disappointing customer experience, but only 40% had received an acknowledgement as a result.

Dr. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic of Goldsmiths University in London, said: “Complaining effectively isn’t something that comes easily to British consumers, who are naturally quite reserved. Social media makes the process of complaining a lot less confrontational, so it’s no surprise respondents to our research are embracing the channel so readily.

“Businesses shouldn’t fear complaints on social media. Rather than having to second-guess customers that might simply have stayed quiet and walked away from a brand for good, the fact that these consumers are now finding a voice on social media gives companies the opportunity to engage with them directly, address their problem, learn from it, and in many cases turn a complainant into an advocate for the brand. What companies cannot afford to do is ignore complaints or be slow to react. Social media thrives on immediacy, so small issues can snowball very quickly if they are not responded to.”

Another survey by Sage also discovered that only 6% of business owners monitored social media to gain a better understanding of their customers, while 43% believed that the economic conditions made it more important for companies to go further for customers, although only 1% engaged with consumers through social media by responding to comments and criticism.

Gary Young, head of customer operations at Sage UK said: “Customers are clearly using Twitter and Facebook a lot more frequently, but many businesses just aren’t ready to accept this shift yet. Companies need to understand this change in the way people are communicating and interacting and engage with their customers, respond to their questions and address their concerns.”

“To put our research into perspective, if you have one thousand customers with an axe to grind, at least 220 of them with make their complaints public on social media. When you also consider that the average Twitter user has 27 followers, it’s easy to see why companies should be taking this seriously. If you have a Twitter account for your business you need to be using it well. There’s no point paying lip service to social media, you need to be actively listening and responding to customers.”


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