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70% of Companies Ignore Customer Complaints on Twitter

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Despite increasing numbers of customers using Twitter to publicly complain about brands, the vast majority of companies respond in the exact same way….with the quiet of contempt.

New research from Maritz and Evolve24 of 1,298 Twitter complainants found that only 29% of those tweet gripes were replied to by the companies in question. 

This is a dereliction of duty, in my estimation. As we discussed in The NOW Revolution, brands must look at these new channels as the “social telephone” and ignoring these 140 character cries for help is a flawed decision for two reasons.

First, responding to Twitter complaints can turn lemons into lemonade. The Maritz study found that 83% of the complainants that received a reply liked or loved the fact that the company responded. This is irrespective of how, when or why the response came. Think about that. Just the fact that the company acknowledged the problem and showed it was listening improved customer psychology 83% of the time.

“What is striking about these findings is the strong degree to which consumers want to be engaged online to have their issues addressed,” says Anthony Sardella, senior vice president and managing director at evolve24. “They are clearly seeking to have a greater voice in the customer service process and see social media as a streamlined means for resolution of their issues.”

Second, the people that are using Twitter to complain are already disproportionately upset. Previous research from ExactTarget called Twitter X-Factors showed that fewer than 1% of customers use Twitter as their first stop in problem resolution. In almost every case, the people complaining on Twitter are doing so because your company already failed to satisfy them in one or more traditional customer service channels.

Let’s see if I have this right. Angry customers just looking for a sympathetic ear, shouting about it in a public forum. That does not seem to me to be an equation that 70% of companies should ignore.

Why The Social Telephone Goes Unanswered

In my consulting work with mid-sized and large brands, I find two primary reasons why companies purposefully ignore complaints and fail to answer the social telephone. 

Fear. Companies literally believe (and I hear this exact phrase all the time) that they’d like to get involved but are afraid the conversation will turn negative in social media, and that answering gives greater exposure to complaints. Here’s the deal. If your company sucks, Twitter is the least of your worries. Social media doesn’t create negativity, it puts a magnifying glass to it. Twitter doesn’t make people more upset, it makes them less upset (if you respond) – especially women 35+ who are disproportionately delighted to get a response on Twitter from a brand.

Resources. It’s true that social media doesn’t close at 5pm, and in fact many customers use social media during the night and on weekends, when it may be inconvenient for you to monitor and reply. But your corporate convenience is not the prism through which you should be gazing upon social business. There was a time when grocery stores closed at 10pm, catalog call centers weren’t open on the weekend, and the only companies that had websites were in porn. But the world has changed – not to throw a wrench into your carefully crafted staffing and resource allocation model – but because the needs and desires of your customers have changed.

Customer Satisfaction with Operating Efficiencies

Also recognize that while you may need to expand your “paying attention” windows to meet the new customer expectations social media has wrought, you can also handle customer issues with greater efficiency. Sure, you only have 140 characters to reply, but your customer only has 140 characters to gripe. Do you think Comcast does Twitter customer service solely because they are nice guys and/or want to get newspaper coverage about doing so? They do Twitter customer service because it’s more efficient than telephone or email customer service.

This isn’t that hard. This is not out of reach for 70% of companies. You need to listen, respond, and triage. I know they just look like tiny little heads floating across your computer, but these are real people. They are your customers. They are pissed off. Your silence is deafening. 

Facebook Comments


  1. JamieFavreau says

    I have to agree I am in the category of women you mentioned and I do complain about a singular device which has aggravated me only after I have gotten it replaced at the store three times and it still malfunctions. I have a Verizon Wireless Incredible which I have taken to the store to replace because it kept resetting itself two to three times and then every time I factory reset it so I don’t have to take it to the store I complain on Twitter and Facebook. So at least people who are following me or are on Facebook don’t ever purchase the phone. Have I really been listened to? No they tell me to go to the store so I can get a factory refurbished one never mind that each one I have gotten hasn’t solved the problem and I am new to the contract. So I do tend to complain but they do tend to ignore me. So here I am voicing my opinion here because I can totally relate.

    • says

      @JamieFavreau I had the same problems with the same phone – plus it kept returning an error message that closed all apps. Six months, endless hours in the stores and on the “customer support” line, and 5 refurbished phones later, I finally took to Twitter to complain. Did it help? Not at all. Total silence from Verizon. In the end, it was worth every penny to cancel the contract early and move to an iPhone – something that could’ve been prevented by a simple acknowledgement from Verizon that the problems I was encountering were frustrating and should be fixed (on Twitter or by any other means).

  2. says

    IMHO another reason why companies don’t use Twitter to handle customer complaints is IGNORANCE. As in they probably don’t know Twitter exists, what it does, and (maybe more importantly) how to handle those complaints in Twitter.

    A funny bit to that is it’s actually not necessarily hard. You just have to take time to get a “feel” for how Twitter works, then use basically the same customer service principle or 2 in there, namely to acknowledge and address the issue in whatever way you maybe see fit.

    Like many if not anything, it practically boils down to a cost-benefit situation. It might take more, of course, but it just takes a willingness to try and the focus to tackle what’s exactly important there.

    • says

      @Dave Zan I agree, but I see this particular hurdle fading away. We’re getting close to the point where if you’re not doing ANY social in your company, it’s because you choose not to do so, not because you are unaware of it.

  3. Kimberly Karanja says

    Another reason why companies do not respond to complaints or inquiries is because they are simply lazy. Being on social media means one needs to be constantly on the look out for their customers needs and wants. >> Kimberly Karanja, Pamoja Media Est Africa.

  4. kyleplacy says

    Great post Jay. I have been pleasantly surprised with one sector that doesn’t ignore customer complaints on Twitter – the banking and credit union industries. They are surprisingly extremely good at Twitter customer service – at least with response rates. I’d love to get some research on that industry.

  5. RockTique says

    Great information, thank you! I find that when I bring up social media customer service to companies owned by some friends or relatives, I just get beaten down to the pulp. It’s a huge ignorance issue. These ‘people’ tell me I’m living in a fantasy world & that social media is a waste of life. I’ve given up trying to argue my point to these people as these are the kind that are set in their ways & will simply never change their thinking (and it really drives me crazy!) On the flip side, I’ve found some businesses that I frequent are very interested when I bring up social media as a means for branding and customer care. I’ve had some of these businesses (a local chain restaurant for example) actually ask me to sit with them & teach them a bit more. I’m delighted to see a few now using twitter as a means of communication. One company was particularly interested in what I had to say about Groupon and weeks later I opened my Groupon email to see that company’s daily deal. So, there are some businesses, small large and in between that just simply don’t ‘get it’…and then there are those that are just not educated on social media. Bringing up the topic, giving advice and help to businesses you frequent is a great way to, at the very least, put the thought in their heads and perhaps get them on board!

    • says

      @RockTique You are moving your dollars because of social aptitude. THAT’s what is going to change thinking on this issue. Not blog posts or conferences or books. Companies will start embracing it when they see their competitors taking market share.

  6. gpcsPat says

    Very interesting stuff, Jay, with some remarkable statistics. I think you hit the nail on the head with this post. I love your quote: “Social media doesn’t create negativity, it puts a magnifying glass to it.” Now is only more companies listened to you and followed your advice I’m pretty sure the world of commerce would be a happier place!

  7. _Monoprix_ says

    @Vincent_Wolf @Kriisiis Article très instructif, merci de nous le faire partager. Bonne journée !

  8. mollyziske says

    @MSUScottW honestly, I think that 70% of companies ignore customers in general. which is silly…. (great article, thanks!)

  9. FrankEliason says

    Costs vary by business, amount of activity and other factors. I usually found costs to be higher, but speed of information created other value, particular when you could use that information in other parts of your business, sometimes even deflecting calls coming in. At the same time, I agree that it is a sad state of affairs when a company can hear their Customers yelling on the street corner, yet they choose to ignore them. The other key component is how this feedback can be used to change the company. If some have a certain impression, I am sure others do as well. This information is key to also gaining the right ROI in social media. It can help with process improvement, product development and even positioning of your brand. Beyond that, anytime a Customer feels that a company is listening to them, they become a cheerleader for the brand. Your Customers usually want you to succeed and partnering with them can help you go a long way!

    • says

      @FrankEliason The man, the myth, the legend. Hi Frank! When’s your book coming out, so I can just link to that and not write posts on this topic any more? 😉

      • FrankEliason says

        Hey Jay! I hope you are well. Since you and Amber were such an inspiration, I will announce it here first! @YourService will be out in the spring. Of course this means I better get working hard to finish on time

      • FrankEliason says

        @JayBaer You are the legend and inspiration. In fact if it was not for you and Amber I do not think I would be undertaking writing a book. In fact I have not publicly stated it, but I will do it here! @YourService will be out from Wiley Spring 2012. I guess I better get back to work. Have a great day

  10. mlgirard says

    I really enjoyed this article. These are great insights into customer psychology as it relates to social media channels. Justifying time allocation for monitoring social media at contact centers or other means is sometimes difficult but having numbers like this to back up a push for social media monitoring are phenomenal. Great post, I’ll be sharing it widely.

    Michael GirardCommunity Engagement, Radian6

  11. mpace101 says

    Hi Jay,

    Thanks for pointing out a couple of reasons why the social telephone is going unanswered.

    Here are a couple more to consider:
    – if marketing “owns” social media/tools, marketing needs to learn/work like customer service (have SLA’s, quality control, etc…)
    – companies don’t know people are talking about them
    – customer service is not involved in social media. Go to customer service or contact center conference, out of 500-600 attendees only between 5-10% are active in social networks

    I wrote a few thoughts down on this topic in August “Why Customer Service is Avoiding the Social Wave”.

    Great article

    • says

      I agree @mpace101 that many companies are just not aware that their customers are talking about them. They are just “doing” – updating their Facebook wall, pushing out content on Twitter, sending email newsletters. Just … doing. Going through the motions.

    • says

      @mpace101 Brilliant comment. Thanks for joining this conversation. I love the point about marketing handling social, and marketing NOT being customer service. Bingo! That’s a big hurdle in many organizations.

        • mpace101 says

          @JayBaer thank you and thank you sir. I truly believe eventually progressive companies will move to “social organizational” model where social media are the tools for socially competent people to conduct social business to help achieve broad business goals. But for now, customer service org.’s need to build trust with marketing org’s & show they are sincere, reliable & competent to handle social business. Again great convo starter.

  12. jeffricks says

    Jay – Spot on review of the Maritz study. 70% of Companies Ignore Customer Complaints on Twitter; this speaks volumes to the strength of companies social marketing team. For companies who say they are concerned about their brand, it’s time to get busy turning lemons into lemonade. I bet 70% of companies wish there was a ‘Delete or Retract’ button for tweets! jdbreen123

      • jeffricks says

        @JayBaerjdbreen123 I wonder if the survey depicted the time for consumer complaint tweets. I’m guessing majority are after 10pm, and a few adult beverages. Their words just seem to spew out, often unfiltered! Unfortunately, the after 10pm time frame, is probably the only time smaller companies, (w/o a person devoted to social marketing), have to queue up their next day tweets; probably done while fuming over the lemons that were served to them that day, (debating whether or not they have the energy to make lemonade).

  13. MichaelProcopio says

    @JayBaer, the slide is marked confidential. Did someone forget to remove that or is this an oops and I shouldn’t use it?

  14. Mindy Lentz says

    Very interesting. I was actually surprised by the figures. Social media is all about branding and establishing a reputation (hopefully positive) with their customers. Thanks for this information. It’s definitely an area where businesses can differentiate themselves from other brands by actually acknowledging complaints.

  15. nsweeney says

    I am not surprised by this, actually, Jay. Just yesterday, I saw a few complaint tweets just yesterday, but the tweet never mentioned the company via hashtag or @ symbol. My only question: If the people complaining about companies on Twitter don’t bother to actually call out the company itself, why would they expect a response within two seconds? If you’re going to call someone out, at least do it to their face.

  16. nsweeney says

    I am not surprised by this, actually, Jay. Just yesterday, I saw a few complaint tweets, but the tweet never mentioned the company via hashtag or @ symbol. My only question: If the people complaining about companies on Twitter don’t bother to actually call out the company itself, why would they expect a response within two seconds? If you’re going to call someone out, at least do it to their face.

    • says

      @nsweeney You raise an excellent point Nick. To some degree, it’s the complainers responsibility to make their message visible and findable. This is especially true for local business. Complaining about a chain restaurant with no address info attached is pointless, for example.

  17. VSDieguez says

    Great post Jay. I think you summed it up perfectly. The fact that this is the state of social media customer service further shows how very young this space still is. I think we all get tied up and sometimes forget the extreme changes we are implementing. They may take a while, but they are well worth it.

    • says

      @VSDieguez Yes. We often forget that this is early days, and to be flummoxed by this 70% figure would be similar to being apoplectic about website usability being terrible 3 years after the browser was invented (which it was).

  18. OshawaOgre says

    I guess I was one of the lucky 30%

    I had a great experience at a restaurant because I spoke my mind on twitter see and followup I was directed here by a great social media person @InspiredAnnette

  19. JanWillis says

    Customer complaints are a moment of truth where companies have the opportunity to turn a disgruntled customer into a lifelong fan. But the sad fact is, most companies handle them badly across the board. It’s not just in social media where they get it wrong but you put your finger on it Jay when you say that social media holds up a magnifying glass to poor customer service.

    • says

      @JanWillis Exactly right Jan. As I’ve written here before, social gets the brunt because it’s public, but if we could listen in on phone calls and read emails that are sent (or not sent) by companies in a customer service scenario, we would FREAK OUT.

  20. says

    As I mentioned below, I really think that many companies are just not aware that their customers are talking about them. They are just “doing” – updating their Facebook wall, pushing out content on Twitter, sending email newsletters. Just … doing. Going through the motions. They heard that they need to be “doing social media.” So, they are. Pushing content. Marketing. Talking about their stuff.

    I guess this is why we are both employed, right Jay?

  21. AnitaTaylor4 says

    @BIT290BCC As stated I do have some difficulties with tweeting. . So in regards to the 70% I believe in my opinion to be valid.

  22. NubianOR says

    I tweeted and posted pictures to FTD about an awful flower arrangement I had sent a friend. Within 1/2 I was sent a DM then FTD corporate called. Problem was resolved and I removed negative flower picture and replaced with the outstanding customer service I received. FTD will always have my business because of this.

  23. jkrohrs says

    Customer complaints are just the tip of the iceberg. There are tons of consumer questions that brands can and should answer that fall upon deafening silence on Twitter. Ironically, I tweeted Jay’s article today & renewed an unanswered question I had for United about when wi-fi is coming to their Continental flights. It was the 3rd or 4th time I’ve asked the question on Twitter, and this time, they responded.

    My guess is that the issue isn’t just about whether they’re paying attention, it’s also about having the staff & empowering them to deliver answers/solutions. And while some brands may resent that Twitter “is yet another channel” for consumers to vent, it is often done with good reason because:

    1. The consumer has exhausted other routes & is at wits end, or

    2. The existing routes are too convoluted (you tell me where you can ask a question about United’s planned wi-fi expansion and get a prompt answer on their website or via their toll-free phone tree), or

    3. Circumstances (such as being on a plane w/o time/access to a toll-free customer service number) dictate that a tweet is a much more effective channel to use.

    I certainly don’t tweet all of my questions for or issues with brands, but for the big ones, I’m certainly glad Twitter provides a fast, public means of getting answers or, if needed, resolution.

    • says

      @jkrohrs “renewed an unanswered question I had for United about when wi-fi is coming to their Continental flights. It was the 3rd or 4th time I’ve asked the question on Twitter, and this time, they responded.”

      It’s also possible whoever read your tweets that time asked United’s management, but they wouldn’t tell that person or so until recently. Hopefully they at least acknowledged your tweet back then.

    • says

      @jkrohrs You raise a great point Jeff. Part of it is companies listening for more than just their brand name. You have to have a much broader take on listening than that. My advice is always that whatever search terms you care about in SEO, those are also the terms you should be monitoring in social. I should write about that.

  24. InspiredAnnette says

    Some of the comments I’ve read after I posted a link to this article just freakin’ amazed me (that’s my nice way of saying they pissed me off). It’s this disbelief that, “OH NO!!! Companies don’t ACTUALLY ignore their customers…. definitely not!!!”

    Why is it that some people have issues with research results? Become friends with the facts folks!

    • says

      @InspiredAnnette I think it’s because everyone knows someone that got good results from a social media complaint, so we presume that listening/response is universal. And it’s just not (yet).

  25. adamson says

    The report rings true to me. @apple and @aldi are examples I’ve experienced who never respond. Actually in one case @aldi did respond who directed me to another part of Aldi – another Twitter handle – who promptly went deaf after the first twitter contact. The reasons for their ignorance are manifold as you say, but why would Apple even care, which is essentially their point of view.

    Walter @adamson

    • deshaw says

      ummm, adamson… @apple is not run by Apple the company. Maybe that explains why they never responded. So before you start saying “Why would Apple even care” do just a little investigation.

    • says

      @adamson@aldi Apple barely responds to anyone, much less real-time in social media. But in a LOT of ways, they are the exception that proves the rule.

  26. teriel says

    It honestly surprises me how many companies still don’t respond to social media criticism. Social media is ideal for customer service for the reasons you mention and also for showing that the company cares. And most people will be reasonable if they feel like someoen from the company is listening and trying to resolve the problem.

    • says

      “It honestly surprises me how many companies still don’t respond to social media criticism.”

      @teriel Kind of like what I first commented here: they probably just don’t know how, and without necessarily turning it into a bashfest. But…that’s where people like Jay and @djwaldow come in. :)

      And like Jay wrote, it also depends on resources like how much they’re willing to “invest” into social media. It’ll take time.

    • says

      @teriel Companies just feel like the standards for social media response are different than the standards for voicemail or email response. That’s the crux of the issue. They don’t see it as a “social media telephone”. They see it as a press release service.

  27. OnlineBusinesVA says

    If you think Twitter is a more effective way to get problems solved? then think again. Companies ignoring social media follow up should read this and make them correct their mistakes…

  28. pfaender_media says

    Great post, that’s exactly what I tell my clients when they ask why they should respond to any tweed. Thank you!

  29. kyanainsweden says

    I attended a conference yesterday in Stockholm called Mynewsday, hosted by Mynewsdesk and one of the guest speakers @joannejacobs commented that companies that use social media are great at hearing what their customers have to say but by not acting on what they hear, they are still not listening and that is true of social media for companies.

    • says

      @kyanainsweden@joannejacobs True, because listening doesn’t require real-time ability to do anything, nor does it require the listener to express any real judgement. BIG operational difference between listening for business intelligence, and real-time triage and response.

  30. says

    well, since social media is the best place to network with customers I find it hard to believe that companies are actually ignoring them. Social channels are great for after sale service, it gives you a platform to connect with you customers and answer any questions they may have. I would never ignore customers complaints, as this will make them even more angry. One exception to this that you have mentioned above is that your business, unlike social media is not 24/7. In this case I believe larger companies should have someone monitoring social channels or have a monitoring system for certain keywords in place.

      • DavidZandueta says

        @JayBaer@AlioshaKasin Something tells me that depends how and what they can afford to make that happen. Still, no harm trying if they’re especially a 24/7 service business like, say, cable TV and Internet connection.

  31. beth_warren says

    This is SO true! I was just talking about this yesterday.. businesses have a huge opportunity to turn “lemons into lemonade” as you say.. In one case, I was at a restaurant and it was hideous.. complained on Twitter THREE TIMES and did not receive a single response. I will never go there again. Conversely, I complained on Twitter about a winery in Niagara … they immediately contacted me and made it right. I will give them a second chance.

    • deshaw says

      Wait…what??? You went to a restaurant and it was hideous so you….complained on “Twitter THREE TIMES”? Ok I was in the midst of constructing a logical rebuttal offering reasons why we should not expect companies to be at our beck and call on Twtter and saw this. I mean its a joke right?

      So Beth, you are at this hideous restaurant, presumably within arms length of a waitress, manager, cook, busboy, all of who may have been able to make your meal less hideous and what did you do???? You Tweeted????? You freaking Tweeted????? Instead of taking your issues to someone then and there, you took the cowardly route and complained on Twitter. Aside from not having the spine to speak with someone directly, did you ever think that this place was, like, you know, a restaurant? If the restaurant was that bad what would give you any inclination that they had a kick-ass social media department?????

      Let me break it down for all you social media kids. Sometimes things in life don’t life up to the lofty standards you yourself cant meet. Often the best way to resolve things that don’t go your way is not to run to the safety, anonymity, shelter of social media. Most companies do have a way to help solve problems. It is really that much of a crime that it might be by phone, email, face to face? Ya, ya, ya, not all companies are “killin’ it” in social media, so you’re response is to persecute them for it. If after you’ve exhausted all avenues they still haven’t resolved your issue, then have at it, destroy them on Twitter, if it makes you feel better.

      Be fair, be human, and hope that others will give you the same consideration in your life.

      • says

        @deshaw It’s true that most people resort to Twitter only after having been disappointed in other customer service dimensions. Deshaw, your point is sound that face-to-face and in-the-moment is perhaps best for problem resolution, but attacking Beth for her comment is probably not the best method of getting that point across. We have conversations here. We don’t slap people around for their opinions.

      • beth_warren says

        Perhaps I didn’t explain myself well enough.

        I was at a large chain restaurant (which I didn’t name, to be fair, but suffice to say they have a very large marketing department) and there were issues – service issues as well as an issue with the menu. Every time I would go to this restaurant, I would order the same item. They had changed the item but I wasn’t informed when I ordered. The new version of this entree included a food item to which I am allergic. I immediately started having a reaction. I addressed these issues with the manager, IN PERSON, and was BARELY apologized to, AND they still expected me to pay FULL PRICE for my meal even though I did not finish it (for obvious reasons)

        It was only AFTER I spoke with humans that I addressed this via Twitter. I also emailed the company. NO RESPONSE.

        In fact, deshaw, I actually tweet for 3 restaurants.. and I always ensure that I respond to any customer queries or refer them to someone who can rectify the situation. And re: “social media kids”. Dude, I do this for a living.

        At no time did I “destroy them on Twitter” nor did I behave in a cowardly fashion. And as for anonymity, I’m the one using my real name and a picture, deshaw.

        Now, anytime you’d like to apologize for the name calling, I’m right here.

        • deshaw says

          @beth_warren 1. Given the full contaxt of your experience I apologize for attacking you.

          2. My rant, yes, it was a rant, was because I do see more and more of people using social media in the way I described. Expecting too much and pouncing when those expectations aren’t met.

          3. I would have told you the same thing if you were sitting across the table from me, and you would have found the passion and presentation of my rant adorable. I woulda waved my arms and everything.

          4. “Dude” is the nicest thing someone has called me in a week. I heart you for that.


        • beth_warren says

          I understand where you were going with that, and perhaps if you were waving your arms and being all adorable I would have melted. Obviously.

          *whew*.. glad I went with Dude.. I was going to call you cupcake. LOL


    • says

      @beth_warren In fairness, restaurants can have a tough time in this area, because they really aren’t staffed for it at the individual location level, and it’s hard for corporate to handle individual location issues.

      • beth_warren says

        Understandable.. the restaurant involved is a large chain who have a SoMe person(s) at the time. As well, I tweet for 3 restaurants (all local smaller places) and make sure all customer inquiries are responded to… it can be done.. 😉 @JayBaer

        • says

          @beth_warren Oh it can definitely be done. But in both situations (chain and your work for locals) there is defined staff to handle. In many/most cases there isn’t, and that’s the challenge. That’s why restaurant managers should have TweetBeeps and API-driven 4Square and Yelp info (via RSS) emailed to their smartphones in real-time. It’s awesome that you’re helping those 3 restaurants, but there’s only so much you can do from afar, right?

        • beth_warren says

          Absolutely. Most places either don’t do it, or do it poorly. And actually, I think doing it poorly is far more harmful to their brand.

      • says

        Sorry but fairness has nothing to do with it. Restaurants are in the “taking care of people” business and the imperative is to recover guests and experiences as they happen, face-to-face, at the point of experience.There are plenty of staff to handle any situation, as it happens. There’s really no excuse for the treatment Beth received.

        Letting a guest walk out the door unhappy is the failure – especially since Beth communicated her issue(s) promptly. Restaurants & hotels are the ultimate social business and Beth’s situation proves that it’s irrelevant whether you do it well or not on a social media platform, if you fail to act when the situation is right in front of your face. No amount of work through social media can make up for being ignored IRL. @JayBaer @beth_warren

        • ksaxoninternet says

          Totally agree with you – a colleague of mine amy_boom recently had a less than impressive experience in a restaurant that wasn’t handled well at the time. Then her Facebook complaints went ignored – until she wrote a blog post on the subject:

          Social media goes way beyond just Twitter – keeping quiet isn’t an option!

  32. JohnMacD1 says

    Great post Jay, thank-you. I would be curious if the data that shows that 83% of people are pleased when a company contacts them is for customers that have tweeted directly to a company or if it includes those that tweet without the company or brand specific hashtag or @. I have found when speaking to some of my clients that fear and caution (when should we or shouldn’t we respond) have trumped resources to date. Once fear and caution are addressed then discussions and concerns around resources take place. The good news within my client group is that within the past 6 months or so I am starting to see increased awareness that there is a need to move beyond simply pushing content and monitoring conversations and that servicing consumers and improving their experience regardless of the channel is important to do. Hopefully next year we’ll see a new post from you with better results!

      • JohnMacD1 says


        Thanks Jay. If you do find out anything please let me know. I am working with some of my clients on the need to be aware of where and what the conversations are and when appropriate engage regardless of where those conversations may be taking place. Not every question or opportunity is directed directly to a page but they may be just as valuable as those that are directed to a brand page or account. Sort of the you have to fish where the fish are mentality.

  33. SinRumboFijo_ says

    @andreseml @zite pos porque así la empresa queda como súper moderna :-) Yo estoy cansada de enviar tweets a @aeromexico por mi mascota

    • andreseml says

      @SinRumboFijo_ – es verdad Kari, parece que no les importa y es simplemente una estrategia de marketing :(

  34. DavidZandueta says

    Hi Jay. New viewer now commenting on your blog, especially since I’m eager to learn how to apply customer service via social media. I came across this while I was looking online about customer service.

    Not much to say except I agree with an earlier comment that I’ve also observed some companies don’t know how to use Twitter, and are maybe afraid of doing something stupid. But I also agree with you that it’s essentially a choice nowadays, given that others are successfully using social media (like Twitter) to address consumer complaints.

    I guess they just want to “prove” to themselves the value of using social media. Only…they really have to at least try in order to see if it indeed works for them.

    In my case, I’d like to see how I can apply what I’ve learned doing customer service for at least six years in social media. To think I actually stayed away from them for the longest time because I thought they’d be…well…time wasters!

    • Aletodi says

      @DamCu por aqui las empresas, prog de Tv, Radios, tienen cuenta por moda..pero no tienen la menor idea de lo que espera el usuario

      • DamCu says

        @Aletodi parecido por España, falta mucho camino por recorrer en SM, es mejor no entrar sin ideas claras

  35. philipstrange60 says

    Within a very short period we will ALL have smartphones which will give us access to social media on the move, and that is the biggest driver for the use of social media. Those of us that have them know that if we get bad service from a supermarket, a car dealership, a government agency, etc we tweet it or whatever IMMEDIATELY from the phone. We don’t wait to get home, unpack the groceries, and make a cup of tea while the home PC is booting up. Smartphones make social networking instant and emotional, and that’s what takes it out of control of enterprise. Before smartphones your indignation became calmer and calmer according to how long you took to get your complaint heard (those damned automated phone systems play tranquilising music for a reason….) and let’s face it – how many times did we just forget about it anyway? That doesn’t happen anymore thanks to the instantaneous combination of smartphone and social network. Customers are now shaping business processes, and companies need to respond.

  36. besade says

  37. sherrilynne says

    My work with companies convinces me the big issue is fear of things they can’t control. It’s not a rational fear, I know. But that’s usually the issue.

  38. GreyLondon says

    @TamarUK what’s even more shocking is when you take to social media to file a complaint and the brand isn’t even active in that space. -Dan

  39. sdolukhanov says


    Just think; twitter is just the beginning. Think about the thousands of other places all over the web where people complain about the inconveniences they experience at the hand of several companies on the daily.

    Someone might ask “As an enterprise, why don’t you just get a social media monitoring product?” Well, you could, but they are expensive and they don’t exactly help you correlate the data you find to your key business performance metrics, helping you figure out exactly who you need to talk to, what you need to say, and how much it will cost you if you don’t.

    Instead, enterprise users need to look in to social media business intelligence. Instead of fumbling around trying to figure out what to do about all of those people hating on your business online, it might be better to actually fix the issue before it becomes a bigger problem. Not only that, but understand what your customers are ACTUALLY saying; the motivations behind why they say what they say online.

    It starts with twitter, but twitter is a tool that expands and promotes other content all over the web. I bet the number is a lot higher than 70% for companies failing to answer to the cries of their socially savvy consumers online.

    – Sergei Dolukhanov


  40. says

    Many companies are not going to respond on Twitter or any social media channel for the same reason they make it so difficult to get customer service in person (not open even though the business is, long lines, employees who are not empowered to do anything except tell you why they can’t do anything) or on the phone (in voicemail hell, hiding their toll-free number which led to several start-ups whose entire business model was giving you that elusive toll-free number and telling you how to get through to a real human).

    The bottom line is they do NOT care what you think nor do they want to hear from you. They just want you to pay your money and go away. It amazes me that so many consumers still put up with horrendous service and haven’t found the obvious alternative; patronizing locally and owned and operated businesses that DO care – but only the ones that know how to provide quality service and products AND treat their customers well and fairly.

    I am hopeful that as bloggers start raising awareness that there ARE independent alternatives in most industries that more and more people will support small local and online businesses and quit buying from any corporation that treats their employees, suppliers, or customers badly – or worse.

    • says

      @GrowMap Recently I had a negative experience with a local food place and made sure to say something about it on Twitter. They responded, but were completely defensive instead of looking for ways to make it work. It was a shame because they are a new locally owned and operated business and I was hoping to have a good experience but because of the bad food and the horrible customer service, I won’t be going back. Unless small businesses and their employees are learning tools to diffuse situations like this, it will harm their reputations in the long run. Because when people have bad experiences, they will complain. For a long time. -Sarah

    • sdolukhanov says

      @philipstrange60@sdolukhanov Looks nice, but there are about 200 other “social media monitoring” companies on the market that seem to have similar function. In my response I was referring to a deeper kind of analytics; actually correlating the data you see to a businesses key business performance metrics. “How much money will my company make because of X share of voice in Y market?” Social media business intelligence. Cheers,

      – Sergei

      • philipstrange60 says

        @sdolukhanov You’re probably right. We’ve got a good niche here in Spain! We’re moving in the direction of KPI correlation, but not this year.

        Cheers, Phil.

  41. priceengines says

    @RoshSillars how many actually actively search for mentions of their name or brand? (we do) to be able to engage / reply.

  42. gwenmorrison says

    Thought I would share the other side of this — though I agree that companies are really not “getting” it when it comes to responding to customer concerns “voiced” through social media.

    I had an issue with my fairly new Whirlpool washer, and I took my complaint to Twitter to see if others were having a similar issue with the defective part. Within 15 minutes I was contacted on Twitter by whirlpoolcare — who asked me for information about the issue I was having with the machine, and my contact information. Within a week I was contacted again by a rep who provided me with a solution. Then, just this morning, a member of their social media team called me to make sure I got everything sorted out and made sure I had no further concerns. GREAT customer response. GREAT follow up.

    Kudos to Whirlpool for listening — and for responding.

  43. WarrenWhitlock says

    @BOSEARCH I hold to Dr. @BenMack’s definition of BRAND as the relationship with customers. Ignoring not good for relationships/brands

  44. SocialMediaLUV says

    @TweetSmarter @CivilRights @SenateBanking @WellsFargo @Equifax CREDIT NOT Reported 4=2 WHY Companies Ignore Customer Complaints on Twitter?

  45. NYEW says

    @genemarks sad isnt it – premium cust service = scalable brand equity, not to mention its direct and viral interaction w low cost barrier

  46. nazlisinem says

    @hasanbasusta 10 dk önce #facebook paro sayfasına şikayet yazdım. Meraklardayım, cvp gelecek mi? Tatmin edici olacak mı? Ya da silinecek mi?

  47. ilenerosenblum says

    While social media is an important tool for building and maintaining customer relationships, if a company cares, they will be available, whether it’s through a customer service phone line that doesn’t make users wait on hold forever and lets them speak to a human representative who can help, a thorough FAQ section on the website, live chat with a customer rep online, etc. I think it’s easier to solicit and get service from a company via e-mail, because you can use more than 140 characters. If good support exists through more traditional methods, there isn’t such a need to provide support through social media in my opinion, BUT it’s a great way to listen in. I’ve had companies respond to both my positive and negative tweets, and I was really impressed when they responded. It’s a great way for companies that care to reach out to customers who won’t bother reaching out to them. But, sadly, not a lot of companies do care.

  48. ChrisMcG33 says

    @KISSmetrics @Twitter @Netflix You think #DearNetflix on twitter had anything to do with them changing their minds on the whole DVD/Stream?

  49. Home1TitleGroup says

    @graywolf ouch! That’s way too much for us! Always good to have a balance btwn “putting out fire” & pumping up brand.

  50. says

    Ignore and didn’t respond may be two different things. Twitter is an interesting system. If I were to receive a complaint on twitter then I would first identify the person and resolve it offline.

  51. says

    I’m not sure that your headline is supported by the research: it may not be that 70% of COMPANIES are ignoring the complaints; it’s that 70% of COMPLAINTS don’t get answered. There is quite a difference.

    It could be that most of the complaints target only about 10% of the companies out there, and that many of THEM aren’t engaging their customers.

    In any case, I think the reasons you give for these missed connections are quite valid. It’s a shame that companies aren’t embracing social media, especially if they’d get the kind of results Twitter users have experienced so far.

  52. sekolga says

    Katz’s Deli is one of those places that don’t care about customer satisfaction. I had a dirty gum at their place all over my clothes, manager said: “nothing i can do, call the business line maybe they will help” business line 832 754 28 02, Roy. Roy never answered the phone. Next day manager said: “not to call any more as he can not help any ways” and i have seen many other customers complaining about MANAGERS at Katz’s, my case wasn’t the first one, they just ignore and don’t respond anyhow.

  53. PhotoCaptures says

    @TweetSmarter Hard for me to ignore as I haven’t had any complaints nor any praises as of yet.

    • debjohanning says

      @schneby I’ve seen some good examples of local businesses responding to complaints; unfortunately many others completely ignore.

  54. filipsalmon says

    @jeroenwils bij @davidsfonds doen we alleszins ons uiterste best om dat niet te doen – gelukkig hebben we er niet veel :) #klachtennegeren

  55. says

    I found your post comments while searching Google. Very relevant especially as this is not an issue which a lot of people are conversant with. This is a very relevant article for anyone interested in measuring online survey and customer complaints. Especially the automation part I find quite interesting and relevant. I am to a great extent impressed with the article I have just read interesting very good.I read the Blog Nice site I found and I bookmarked the site.

  56. says

    I found your post comments while searching Google. Very relevant especially as this is not an issue which a lot of people are conversant with. This is a very relevant article for anyone interested in measuring online survey and customer complaints. Especially the automation part I find quite interesting and relevant. I am to a great extent impressed with the article I have just read interesting very good.I read the Blog Nice site I found and I bookmarked the site.

  57. says

    I found your post comments while searching Google. Very relevant especially as this is not an issue which a lot of people are conversant with.This is a very relevant article for anyone interested in measuring online survey and

    customer complaints. Especially the automation part I find quite interesting and relevant.

  58. says

    I found your post comments while searching Google. Very relevant especially as this is not an issue which a lot of people are conversant with. This is a very relevant article for anyone interested in measuring online survey and customer complaints. Especially the automation part I find quite interesting and relevant.

    [url=]Customer Complaints[/url]

  59. jasondyk says

    Hey Jay,

    I find it interesting that when you talk about why businesses aren’t using it (they are afraid of negative remarks) that you assume that it is their product and/or service that is lacking, when it could be that they just have terrible conflict management skills and aren’t sure how they are able to humanize their company. Thoughts?

  60. markshaw says

    Heh jay.. great article… It always amazes me who so many corporates or businesses ignore so many of their customers or potential customers that contact them via Twitter.. I still cant believe the number of big businesses that have mon-fri 9-6 as open for business.. Twitter is not a mon-fri 9-6 place… 
    The data you have presented does not surprise me and I am on a mission to raise the customer care bar particularly with Twitter… with this in mind we have just launch
    its the 1st customer care score for Twitter… We look at different sectors and then carry out the analysis to produce a score… so far UK supermarkets.. next up UK Utilities…. 
    Mark Shaw

  61. says

    And then, the companies that do respond all too often direct already irate customers to the 1-800 number they’ve tried and gotten no satisfaction from. Broken social telephone.

    • says

       @SusanMcLennan No surprise that companies that don’t want to hear from customers via traditional methods will largely ignore them on Twitter, too.  The good news for consumers is that people like my blogging collaborators and sharp small businesses will offer them alternatives and those who ignore customer service will lose business like they never have before such as the GoDaddy boycott after their backing of SOPA and the money being moved out of big banks into local community banks and credit unions.
      The handwriting is on the wall and many of us have figured out an easy way to decide who to spend money with and who to ignore: if they’re publicly traded we look for an independently owned, controlled and operated alternative.

  62. kirsten says

    @Sprinklr I’ve seen that one too – info is great for our @SASsoftware SM monitoring & response team – they r doing a great job

    • Sprinklr says

      @kirsten that’s great, customer service is such a necessary part of Twitter! Loved that people responded satisfied after talking to company.

  63. cswanger says

    .@Sprinklr If 69% ignore all + the other 31% ignore 70% then it’s worth a shout out to folks like @mophie + @fitbit who have great #custserv

    • Sprinklr says

      @cswanger Glad you liked it, and it is absolutely worth promoting the companies that put an emphasis on social!

  64. teds027 says

    @Sprinklr Simply amazing [in a terrifying way]. Wonder if anyone has cross-tabbed response with business growth.

  65. justaken says


  66. Matthew West says

    Amazingly, companies don’t tend to respond to complaints that I make when I’m walking down the street, which is a public place. They don’t respond when I make a sarcastic jab while having a beer at a bar, which is also a public place. They don’t respond when I voice a concern while chatting over lunch with a friend at Panera, which is also a public place. These brands really need to get on the ball and pay more attention…

  67. Tremaine Hemans says

    Hello mr baer Im citing you’re great graphics in a paper im doing would you mind telling me what date this post was published?

  68. TheLaurenJean says

    What if the customer is completely in the wrong? I doubt publicly mocking them helps the situation, but a company also doesn’t want to come across like the customer is in the right at all. It’s frustrating, trying to find a balance, especially in 140 characters.

  69. Sarathbabu Sekar says


    I brought product on 03-dec-2014 from Flipcart Order ID od201422683351558500, and the product is not working from 16-dec-2014, if i call to customer care they are telling that 10 days warranty policy has been expired.

    Meantime i went to service center, service center people denied to do service because they will not do service for the online product

    But your people are telling to go to service center.

    After explaining to your people that service center people denied the service, then your people are telling that they will take the complaint, and i have to wait until 20-Dec-2014

    And one more thing that when i am giving the complaint that non of the option is working like service people not providing the service and why need to wait until 2-Dec. immediately one of your customer service people [ Mr Sunil ] cross questing and validating me that when i am giving the complaint that sunddenly your you went to service center, when you did the complaint, when you brought the mobile,

    This is the way you are providing the service to customer, really bad service i never this kind of service from the flipkart, if you are not delivering good product, please stop providing service to the customer,

    You are not providing good product and even you can’t able to have good service center for repairing the product

    one thing I need to mentioned here I am going to file the complaint on flipkart and i am going to post the comment in Twitter and Facebook and all watch able sites in online

    Surely you have answer for the bad service which you have provided to me

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