Consumers Get Immediate Results From Complaining Via Social Media

The squeaky wheel still gets the grease, especially when it’s loud enough for the World Wide Web to hear. Tracy Davidson tells us how to best express our customer-service complaints these days.

Chef Brian Duffy of Harvest Seasonal Grill & Wine Bar in Glen Mills tells the story of a recent business trip to Chicago. The hotel had forgotten his wake-up call, so he missed his flight home. As a cab raced him to the airport to catch the next flight, he tweeted that he wasn’t really happy with the hotel. By the time he got to the airport, he says he had an email from the hotel chain’s director of social marketing wanting to make things right. Duffy was offered two free nights’ stay.

It seems more and more people are realizing the value of “complaining” via social media. As one local mom tells me, “It’s one thing to send a letter through the mail or an email that goes straight to the company, but when you complain via social media, the whole world can see you’re not happy with a company.”

A new Accenture survey shows that about one-fifth of customers under age 34 use social media to voice their complaints. Based on viewer response on my own Facebook page, at least some people get results. Jess posted, “West Elm handles complaints well via Facebook. They put me in touch with their corporate consumer relations ASAP, solved the problem, and exceeded my expectations.” And Amanda says she got a $50 Starbucks gift card when she filed a complaint via social media.

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Some companies have entire departments that monitor when they’re mentioned via social media. Joe Manna, a blogger who focuses on technology and social media topics, suggests using Google to search for a company’s official Facebook or Twitter presence. Then, to complain via Twitter, “follow” the company and tweet something like “@companyname I need help and have an outstanding concern. Please DM [direct message] me.”

Manna also suggests:
• Use your real name to make it easy for companies to respond to your complaints.
• Complain during regular business hours, when companies most likely have employees monitoring their social media.

Tell us about your experience with social media complaints by posting a comment below.

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