Just Respond

by Vicki on February 22, 2013

My last blog post examined social media trends over the past year through an infographic.

As I was compiling the post, one stat in particular jumped out at me: 70% of brands ignore complaints on Twitter

Consumers who have taken time and effort to communicate regarding brands in a public and exponentially powerful forum hearing NOTHING! How can this be?!

Some online reading shed light on the dynamics that could help explain this phenomenon:

  • New technologies have made it easier than ever for consumers to have a voice and communicate and connect
  • There is evidence that consumers perceive Twitter as a “social telephone” and are using Twitter to voice concerns instead of picking up traditional telephones
  • Twitter allows consumers to share concerns broadly, instantaneously and publicly
  • There is a clear expectation that concerns WILL be addressed and will be done so in a timely fashion
  • Organizations often have lots of processes in place – processes that get in the way of getting things done quickly and efficiently (doesn’t get much more quick or efficient than 140 characters!)
  • Adopting new ways of doing business is scary and challenging. Especially when customers publicly saying less than flattering things about your organization precipitate the change.
  • There is often a tendency within organizations to spend a bunch of up front time to identify the exact “right” way to adopt new methods (i.e., creating considerable time lags) but often there are compelling reasons to just start (perfection will come with time)
  • New methods often require resources – people resources (e.g., people to monitor and respond) and monetary resources

If consumers are taking the time to voice their concerns publicly through a medium such as Twitter, they are looking to be heard and acknowledged. And often just knowing that you have been heard and that someone cares about your concerns can make a considerable difference in how you feel about a less than stellar product or interaction.

Research suggests that simply answering complaints posted through social media mediums (Facebook and Twitter) can change attitudes towards organizations/brands.

21% of the complaints DID get a response, and more than half the customers had positive reactions to the same company or brand they had been blasting not long before. When customers received a response to their complaint, 46% were pleased. And, even more surprising, 22% actually posted a positive comment about the company or brand. (Why Ignoring Social Media Complaints Is a Huge Mistake)

So what’s my advice? Everything about ignoring complaints feels wrong to me. People want to be heard and acknowledged – especially when they feel unhappy about a given service/product/interaction. Don’t ignore Twitter complaints. Don’t worry about responding perfectly – just respond.

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