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Customers Complain On Twitter. Why Do 71% of Brands Ignore Them?

Consumers have an expectation that brands will listen to them on Twitter.  Gone are the days of sending off complaints via snail mail and waiting 6-8 weeks for a reply.  Now, customers can shoot off a 140-character tweet and expect a reply within minutes. New research by Maritz shows that nearly half of those who tweet a complaint at a brand expected the company to read and respond to their tweet.

Brands Not Responding To Customer Complaints via Maritz ResearchBut are brands listening and responding?  According to this study, just under one-third of consumers received a response from brands they tweeted.  Which means that 71% of companies are not listening (or responding) on Twitter, and are losing out on the “overwhelmingly positive” reaction of consumers when they feel that brands are hearing them.

When brands take the time to actually respond to consumers, 75% are satisfied with the response received.  Only a few – 15% – were “very or somewhat dissatisfied” with the company’s response.
75% of Customers Satisfied When Brands Respond via Maritz Research

86% of those who complain to brands on Twitter would “like or love” to hear from the brand regarding their complaint.  However, when consumers reach out for a specific reason, brands should be careful to respond to the actual complaint: “a striking 63 percent said they would hate or not like it if the company contacted them about something other than their complaint.”

Older Consumers More Likely To Expect Brands To Respond on Twitter via Maritz ResearchConsumer expectations for brands on Twitter also varied by age.  Older consumers were more likely to expect brands to respond via Twitter, especially those 55 and older. Younger consumers, while often more active on Twitter, were less hopeful that brands would respond to their complaints.  Women consumers over 35 were the happiest about receiving a response from brands; they liked hearing from the company 10% more than the average.

In simple terms, this is customer service on a newer and faster platform, where complaints and responses are public.  Brands can turn this to their advantage, and help build loyalty through the quality of their responses.

The airline industry offers great examples for how social media, including Twitter, can be a highly effective tool for customer service.  Royal Dutch Airlines KLM recently announced 24-hr social media customer service, and a recent ranking of US airlines in social media noted that Virgin America, JetBlue and SouthWest Airlines all saw a vast majority of positive comments on social media sites.

Maritz Research surveyed an online panel of 1,298 US consumers between September 9 and 12, 2011.  These consumers had pre-identified themselves as Twitter users who frequently tweet, had complained via Twitter about a company with whom they do business, and who were at least 18 years of age.

  • briguyblock

    @kamichat brands that pay attention to me usually keep me as a customer.

    • kamichat

      @briguyblock What kind of attention usually keeps you loyal?

      • briguyblock

        @kamichat Acknowledging me is usually just enough. Let’s me know they’re listening. A box of chocolates doesn’t hurt.

        • kamichat

          @briguyblock Don’t even SAY teh word chocolate, there are three buckets of it in my house. #temptation

      • briguyblock

        @kamichat Then again, I’m pretty easy to please. I love when they go the extra mile and give me discounts on my next purchase.

  • PrimoAssistance

    Customers Complain On Twitter. Why Do 71% of Brands Ignore Them? http://t.co/EGHLkElf via @tonia_ries @ShellyKramer

  • allenmireles

    @victoriaronco I know, right? Me too. Thx for the retweet. :)

    • victoriaronco

      @allenmireles No prob. It’s proven quite useful – gift certificates, improved service, etc. I think Twitter is one of the best CS tools.

  • simplyink

    RT @WomenWhoTech @tonia_ries Customers Complain On Twitter. Why Do 71% of Brands Ignore Them? http://t.co/fsI95Jr7 via @tonia_ries

  • simplyink

    Thanks to @phycokrusk for the shout and for calling our attention to this blog post. Great read, Marissa!

    • http://therealtimereport.com/ MarissaMcN

      @phycokrusk@simplyink

      Thanks for checking it out, and it looks like you’re making good use of Twitter – great example of being proactive to gain new customers on social media.

  • sillygirlsarah

    As someone within the demographics of early 30′s female, I have on occasion tweeted my displeasure with things/companies with no expectation of getting attention from said company. Just a rage tweet, or to heads up to my friends.

    Other times, I’ve shouted out my love. Take a company like @simplyink who through a friend, heard my complaint about how the new school year meant me printing off tons of forms for my child’s school, and killing my ink which we all know is costly as heck period. Simplyink offered and came through with a full cartridge, for me, free of charge as a way to a) help offset the pain of all those papers, and to b)maybe get me as a customer. And they have. Social media used right.

    The same for @theupsstorecare who contacted me after a rage tweet about a terrible incident at one of their franchises. They tweeted at me to contact them, and helped resolve an issue and salvage a customer who might otherwise have walked away from using their service in the future – Now I’m just using a different store – But they took to twitter, they noticed a customer dissatisfied, solved the issue and have ensured that their company will still have me patroning them.

    The companies who are not using twitter and other examples of social media to reach out in search of finding new customer base are going to be behind the times, and scrambling to catch up when they realize it. The old addage of a happy customer will ten one person, and an unhappy one will tell ten, in this day and age has expanded exponentially and I for one, am glad for the companies that do use twitter and use it to improve their customer service. I’m more willing to patron a store that will reach out and treat me like a valued customer with another option of how to contact them, than one that is stuck way back in the stone age.

    • http://therealtimereport.com/ tonia_ries

      @sillygirlsarah@simplyink@theupsstorecare couldn’t agree more!

    • http://therealtimereport.com/ MarissaMcN

      @sillygirlsarah@simplyink@theupsstorecare I’m with you 100% – I definitely value companies that are making the effort to be accessible through Twitter and other forms of social media for customer service issues.

  • Coffee_mate

    @nemrtlibrary Thank you! Glad to hear you are happy with our customer service!

    • NEMRTLibrary

      @Coffee_mate Your response to someone’s slur of a flavor last year was so quick&erficient I use it as a model for Twitter use! Keep it up!

      • MarissaMcN

        @NEMRTLibrary can you share a link to the @coffee_mate response that you use as a model for Twitter use?

  • bikespoke

    @vdimauro Some brands can’t handle the truth:-)

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