A Slice of Life

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30 Jul 10 Ask and Ye Shall Recieve: Dealing with Twitter Complaints Part II

MC Hammer speaking on the power of social media. Image by Getty Images via @daylife

In a previous post on this topic, I related how I experienced dissatisfaction with a company’s services and how I sought satisfaction from the company in question by making my complaint online via Twitter.  Had a made my complaint by more conventional means, say by telephone, I’m sure it would have been much less successful.  “Yes sir, we’re very sorry but there’s not much more we can do…”  Most are familiar with being fobbed off by less than sympathetic sales staff, getting nowhere and ending up feeling frustrated and angry.  Complaining via social media is much more effective; you have a potential audience of millions and the whole thing ends up being a PR exercise which may be mutually beneficial.  If you are involved with an online complaint, there are a few things to be aware of that might help.

1.  Be aware the the company you are complaining to will try to ‘manage’ your complaint in such a way that what you say causes them as little negative publicity as possible.  Before allowing them to manage you, take the initiative and manage them.  Software designed to help companies manage Twitter complaints like Zendesk attempt to do the following:

  • Turn a tweet into a new Zendesk ticket — a twicket — with one click
  • Record threaded Twitter conversations with full audit trail
  • Combine public and private dialog while maintaining confidentiality
  • Switch a Twitter conversation into an email conversation

Rather than allow your complaint to be switched to private email, continue to respond to any correspondence via Twitter.  Continued negative publicity will ensure that your ‘ticket’ will not be closed until you receive satisfaction.  If you are told that nothing can be done, continue to direct tweets at them; you’ll be surprised at what can be done when bad PR is at stake.

2.  Be aware that the company dealing with your complaint will quickly classify you as one of several generic types of complainers.  The following list is a quote from this ezine article: Types of Complaining Customers

  • Aggressive complainers are most difficult to please and are often more concerned with displaying their emotion than actually achieving a solution. Aggressive customers will often shout, jump to conclusions, and can make unreasonable demands or make threats. Aggressive complainers can be intimidating but should be handled in a calm manner unless the employee feels threatened in which case calling for help may be necessary.*Try not to fall into this category. Irrate customers create a more negative impression of themselves than the object of the complaint and are more easily dismissed.  State your problems calmly while including the key details.  Don’t allow the 140 character limit to limit what you say; make as many tweets as is necessary.
  • Passive complainers are the most lethal to a businesses success, as they will complain to everyone but the actual business. Since the business is left unaware of their error they cannot correct it and the only thing a passive complainer succeeds in doing is depriving the company of potential business.*This is obviously not the type of complainer you want to be.  While the company in question may discover your complaints one way or another, it’s hardly fair not to alert them to the problem.  Google the company and find their social media profile.  If they are not on Twitter, Facebook or where ever, include the name the official name the business is trading as.  You will receive much attention much faster if your complaints are directed at the company and you will, of course be much more successful.
  • Constructive complainers are most beneficial to a business since they address their problem to the business in a calm rational manner. Constructive complainers allow a company to see and understand a problem, which allows them to then repair it. Constructive complainers tend to receive beneficial solutions to their problems and the business also benefits from knowing the error of their ways.*This is the category we want to fall into, but don’t allow yourself to be too effectively managed.  Being too compliant allows you to be transformed into nothing more than an online advertisement.

A recent Harris Poll found nearly 2/3 of its US-based sample use social media. Out of all respondents, 26% use social media to complain about a brand or product and another 23% use social media to talk about a brand or product they like – 34% total had used social media to express satisfaction or dissatisfaction with a product or company. Nearly half (45%) said they were influenced by testimonials on social media by people they know – approximately the same number that say they are influenced by newspaper or magazine articles (46%).

Too few it seems use twitter to complain.  Don’t be afraid to speak up; an increasing number of businesses actually WANT you to complain via social media.  Not only is this a much more effective method in terms of time, labour and record keeping, it can be a positive public relations and publicity exercise.  Complaining via Twitter can be a very successful means of dealing with a problem and would seem a much more effective use of the medium than broadcasting what you’re having for breakfast.

ive methodTypes of Complaining Customers

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