A recent experiment undertaken by a BBC TV programme to test if businesses response quicker to customer complaint via Twitter and other social media networks as compared to those customers who lodge complaints via email.
The basis of the experiment was that five different companies were contacted via Twitter and email detailing the same consumer complaint. The results showed that social media is a far more effective tool to handle consumer complaints. All five companies responded personally to the tweets that were posted.
The fastest response time to the tweets was 3 minutes, whilst the slowest was 1 hour 10 minutes. When it came to the email complaints, only one of the five companies responded and that took over 24 hours.
According to numerous social media experts the realists of this simple test were not very surprising. The reasons given for the quicker responses was that companies respond quicker and feel obliged to respond when complaints are discussed in a public forum. Complaints via public forums has enormous effect because it is a public forum as compared to email and personal phone calls which are private. A tweet or Facebook post are out there for the world to see. Therefore the company need to respond to protect their brand and image.
At the same time, experts agree that complaining via social media network does not always solve the issue or guaranteed to fix the problem. Consumers should be aware that even though you might get a response quicker when using social networks to air your views, this does not necessarily mean that your complaint will be evolved quicker.
There have been cases whereby social media has in fact been successful and forced companies to deal with disgruntled customers far quicker. There is a reported case where a British Airways customers paid to get his complaint promoted on Twitter in order to reach a wider audience. the customer was angry and fed up with British Airways for the way they were handling the issue of lost luggage. The customers paid complaint read as follows, ” Don’t fly @BritishAirways. Their customers service is horrendous”.
British Airways responded almost immediately stating that they would like to apologies to the customers for the inconvenience caused and that they have been in contact with the customer and will deliver the bag the following day.
There is also the case where a customer posted a picture of a bill on Facebook which received from Virgin Media for a late payment sent to the individual’s father in-law, who was deceased. The bill that was sent also included a late penalty fee. This post was shared more that 53,000 times and forced an apology from the company to the family.
In the end of the day, social media is a powerful tool to deal customer complaints and grudges and is forcing businesses to act far more quickly to protect their brand and image.