Complaining users call out businesses on social media for better service

Customers in the digital age expect instant responses when they complain to brands. But what prompts their personal frustrations with a product or service?
Written by Eileen Brown, Contributor

Do businesses quickly admit when they have made a mistake and follow the 'customer is right' approach? A new report shows that the 'callout culture' is changing the way that brands engage with their audiences.

Hosting service comparison site Who Is Hosting This gathered insight from over 1,000 social media users using Amazon's Mechanical Turk platform and who had at least one social media account.

It wanted to understand what and whether or not they choose to react with constructive feedback online.

The survey showed that people most often turn to Facebook when complaining about companies, followed by Twitter and Reddit.

Over three in five (61%) chose to vent on Facebook. The next most common platform was Twitter, which was used by less than half as many (30%) for complaints.

Yet, Twitter users have a higher likelihood of receiving same-day responses from a customer service representative or business owner compared to the Facebook platform.

The most called out industries are not surprising. Of the respondents who had called out a company, 30% said they had directed their complaints at a chain restaurant.

Complaining in this way seems to work too. Domino's Pizza revamped its ingredients in response to complaining customers.

Some industries embrace social media criticism. The average North American airline now responds to 92% of social media complaints in under an hour.

Virgin America leads the field, with responses to 99.7% of customer comments. On the other hand, United only responds to 59.9% of customer feedback.

People are most likely to complain to companies are because they have had a bad experience with the product or service, or receive poor customer service.

Complaining users call out businesses on social media for better service zdnet
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However, 52% of people who called out companies claimed to do so to raise awareness of a particular concern. This suggests callouts are actually intended to raise awareness.

Although it is no surprise that companies are only able to truly succeed with actioned-on feedback from their direct shoppers, consumers are helping their online community as well.

Almost a quarter (23%) of people find that negative reviews are more influential than positive remarks on their perception of a company.

But it does not do well for complainers to be too negative. According to the survey, two out of five (40%) of respondents who vented negatively about a brand online were eventually blocked by the company on social media.

Roughly a third of respondents said that after a complaint, the brand had apologized or offered compensation publicly. An even greater percentage said they received the same offer in a private message.

Obviously, brands see social media as critical for customer service -- however bad the feedback might be.

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