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Customer Service and Social Media

Written by Tiffany | 07-Mar-2012 16:20:41

Results from a recent survey showed that almost 30% of all customer service queries or complaints go without being responded (http://www.maritzresearch.com/~/media/Files/MaritzResearch/e24/ExecutiveSummaryTwitterPoll.ashx). 

Recently I found myself in that 30% when trying to contact two different online fashion stores. Not great. And potentially very damaging for the stores in question.

Experience #1 - I was trying to checkout online and struggling, so tweeted the customer support team to ask for help with completing my order. No response. No response to tweet number 2 either. One unhappy me and one lost Sale for them. 


Experience #2 - I placed an order and then received an email saying the item was out of stock and my money had been refunded. A bit frustrating but fair enough I thought. I then asked about when the item would be back in stock via their twitter page. Sadly, again, no response. 

Speaking with the girls in the office I found they have also received some bad service recently. Their Experience...

Having recently purchased some clothing in online retail’s website sale, they were too disappointed to be told a week and half later that only 2 out the 6 items in stock could be ful/wp-content/uploads/filled. When visiting the site to the items ordered were still in stock on site. Trying to get to the bottom of whether the email informing them that items were out of stock was untrue they went to Facebook for a quick outcome but only to discover many people in the same situation.

The company were continuing to post as per usual as well as a mass apology to those customers waiting for items. Unable to post directly on the wall, Facebook users were overtaking posts with their complaints. For each complaint the company had responded to the individual and my colleague also received a couple of telephone calls and emails trying to resolve the issue resulting in the two items that were delivered given to them free of charge. They were happy with the outcome so I then decided rather than to abandon all hope, to try again via their Facebook page...and, hallelujah, a response! It's still ongoing but great to know there is someone there helping.

This makes me think about social channels as a customer service medium and the research about Twitter queries and complaints going unanswered. Why was Facebook being managed and not Twitter? (I've since been followed by one of the stores in question so they're obviously happy to help me now, but what about their other customers using Twitter?) 

Neither store specify on their Twitter page that customers should use Facebook for online questions and complaints, which I think would at least help a little. More frustratingly, I can see on their Twitter pages that the more standard queries are responded to with a copy and paste response 

so they're selecting those to reply to and those to ignore. They also continue to self-promote through posts and tweets.

This I think is a dangerous tactic and could potentially wind customers up the wrong way.

There have been a number of examples of customer complaints quickly gaining ground recently -

LA Fitness http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2012/jan/27/la-fitness-knockout-blow-gym-contracts,

MacDonald’s  http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/mediamonkeyblog/2012/jan/25/twitter-mcdonalds-good-news-stories?INTCMP=SRCH and

Waitrose http://www.thedrum.co.uk/news/2011/11/09/waitrose-we-did-reply-facebook-complaint come to mind. 

My experiences haven't been this extreme, luckily! On the one hand I do agree that, yes, there are those people who intentionally aggravate situations via social media channels, which by nature are more public, simply to get a discount or deal. On the other hand though, I can understand there are genuine complaints that ring true with a number of customers, that when left unmanaged can easily snowball. 

So what about the other retailer, how are they coping with their Facebook complaints? Looking into this we discovered the Facebook page has been taken down. Digging a little deeper on their twitter account we discovered repetitive tweeting.


The company is struggling to cope with the number of complaints. However in the world of social media just because the Facebook page is taken down doesn’t mean that the complaints have disappeared, it seems the company were choosing to ignore their customers. So where are these complaints? Searching for their brand name the second organic search result is a review site where the majority of these reviews are bad. The below screengrab is just the first one...

Out of the 37 reviews they had responded once, with a generic message.

Important then I think to keep an eye on all social channels set live for feedback, good AND Bad (especially as around 34% of customers now use social media to air their feelings about a company – ODM Group research via @the wall http://wallblog.co.uk/2012/01/31/diffusing-the-social-media-bomb-infographic/ )

, and manage all complaints that come through - you never know what mood the customer is in and which complaint may become that PR nightmare! Every business will come across problems but it is how a business deals with these issues will either strengthen or weaken customers/potential customers’ opinions of them. 

p.s. some people are listening, so a good ending to one of my Twitter stories.