Why Every Minute Counts When It Comes to Social Media Complaints

New research shows that leaving grievances unanswered on your Facebook page can turn off dozens of potential visitors.
Business Writers
February 07, 2012

Leaving complaints or concerns unanswered on your Facebook page doesn't just anger the aggrieved customer–it turns off dozens of others visitors, new research has found.

A whopping 88 percent of customers said that if confronted with unanswered complaints on a company's social media site, they'd be either somewhat less likely or far less likely to do business with the company in the future. That's according to a survey conducted by New York University professor Liel Liebovitz. (He was commissioned by Conversocial, a community management software startup.)

Liebovitz said in the report: "Every complaint which is left unanswered, and every minute it sits on the page threatens the future business of the 9 out of 10 page visitors who proclaim themselves less likely to offer their custom to companies who don’t take social customer service seriously."

According to Conversocial's earlier research (which prompted the current study), companies ignored 60 percent of complaints and questions, and 30 percent of major American retailers ignored 100 percent of the issues posted to their pages.

"Businesses seem to be struggling to deal with the volume of communication on Facebook and Twitter; they aren't equipped to deal with this new public forum and issues are slipping through the cracks," observed the report, titled The Consequences of Ignoring Your Customers. It noted: "The consequences of ignoring your customers can't be overlooked....Social customer service is here to stay."

Other findings of the report: Half of consumers (51 percent) use social media to communicate with companies. More than three-quarters (78 percent) think social media platforms will either replace other forms of customer service entirely, or will become the most popular form.

Roughly a third of customers (33 percent) reported they had either been neglected or ignored completely on social media.

Nearly half of respondents (45 percent) said they'd be angry if they were ignored, and over a quarter (27 percent) said they'd stop doing business with the company.

And about a third of those surveyed (32 percent) rated their overall satisfaction with companies' use of social media to talk to customers as either poor or very poor. Just 8 percent said they were thoroughly satisfied.

Liebovitz suggested that unlike, for example, a complaint via phone, a public complaint on social media must also be dealt with publicly.

"If you take an issue offline there is no resolution for your wider audience to take reassurance from, no matter how good your level of individual service," he said. "Your public image remains one of a careless company who leaves queries neglected."

How do you handle complaints on social media? How do you balance the time needed to monitor social media with your other responsibilities?

Image credit: Thinkstock

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