By: Bill Gephardt, KSL
Are you tired of your consumer complaints going nowhere, despite making numerous phone calls and sending emails? Taking your concerns to Twitter might get you better results.
Not long ago it took a strongly worded complaint to get a company's attention. Now with social media, companies are getting real-time feedback on their products and services. For consumers, it might mean getting problems solved in real time.
Katie Clark got extremely frustrated with her Internet Service Provider. Her modem and wireless router kept going down, making her Internet connection intermittent at best. Getting nowhere after several phone calls, Clark reached her breaking point and tweeted out her frustration.
But when Clark tweeted, “Don't use this company because they're not helping me,” someone from the corporate office called within five minutes, Clark said. “They sent someone out here to resolve the problem. They apologized profusely."
Clark now uses Twitter regularly to resolve complaints that have stalled out in a company's customer service department.
“If you want to get something done just tweet the company because they don't want any negative about their company to air on the social network,” she said.
Clark is not the only one who looks to Twitter, among other sites, for customer service help.
However, here's a caution: an increasing number of companies are beginning to fight back against consumer comments by placing a phrase in their agreements when a customer orders something. The phrase says something like “you are not permitted, under any circumstances, to say anything negative about the company.” If you do, right or wrong, the company might be able to sue you or fine you.
It's a complicated issue. In some cases courts have found in favor of the consumer and sometimes in favor of the business.
On the whole issue of Internet complaining, a survey from telecommunications firm Amdocs found nearly one-half of consumers use social media to try to resolve issues.
Scott Duehlmeier lives and breathes social media. As social media supervisor for The Summit Group, he keeps a close eye on what people are saying about the brands his public relations firm manages.
“It has taken the 'contact us' link on the website and made it a real thing,” he said. “A lot of times, all people are looking for is a response.”
Duehlmeier said that response must come within a few hours.
“I've seen it with brands where people will tweet and they won't get a response, so they'll go back and say, ‘Well, I'm so glad to see you guys aren't paying attention to this,'” he said.
Negative tweets like that drive brands to be more responsive to social media complaints. In fact, many companies, including telecoms, airlines and even banks, scour social media daily for upset consumers. They want to nip complaints in the bud, before they go viral and tear into their brand's image.
“If you don't take care of it, it's going to be like Frankenstein's monster,” Duehlmeier said. “It's going to do way more harm than good.”
There are right ways and wrong ways to get a company's attention on Twitter. Tweeting that your rental car smells like old gym socks isn't enough.
Clark suggested, “The best way is to tag them in the post and then put a hash tag with their company's name.”
She said she keeps her tweets civilized and to the point. Duehlmeier said if you can, attach a picture.
“A lot of times the company will be able to identify, ‘Well, you haven't turned it on. See that little pin? Pull that out, you'll be good to go,'” Duehlmeier said.
He reminded people that what they say on Twitter, Facebook or any other site echoes for eternity. So, what you tweet about a brand must be true or you could find yourself facing a libel lawsuit. And when ordering something, keep an eye out for clauses that say you're not allowed to disparage a company on line or anywhere else. Watch for terms like "confidentiality," "non-disparagement," or "non-review."
Copyright 2013 Deseret Digital Media, Inc.