Every year customers make millions of complaints. About holidays, mobile phones, energy bills, bank accounts, credit cards, or things we have bought that are not quite what we paid for.
People who receive shoddy service from service-oriented companies are now cultivating the habit of taking to Twitter to lodge complaints. Such complaints on the micro-blogging service, can garner instant results.
Most firms have established procedures for dealing with complaints – often involving an expensive, time-consuming and frustrating phone call. But there may be a short cut: Twitter.
Judging by the results of people on Twitter complaining using tweets can be swift and effective.
Not all firms watch Twitter feeds well. Other tweeps have told me they had got no better response tweeting than by other means.
But it is always worth trying, especially with firms that are aware of a poor public image like energy companies and banks, those that care about their reputation and, of course, those that have a Twitter feed for customer complaints And because Twitter is instant, the teams that deal with the responses want an instant answer.
Twitter is effective because, unlike email, phones, and letters, it is public. Half a billion people around the world could see your tweet — and 15 million of them are in the UK.
The search facility means that anyone researching a firm can find all the tweets mentioning it. And if the complaint strikes a chord with others it will be retweeted and could go viral!
When you complain using Twitter follow these five golden rules:
- Keep it specific: Find and use the firm’s @name — many have dedicated customer twitterfeeds which twitter will find once you start typing it.
- Keep it brief: Explain your problem in 140 characters. It can be a challenge. But the essence of it can always be boiled down. Resist writing a string of tweets. One strong message is more likely to be retweeted.
- Keep it factual: Avoid abuse and irrelevant material. But be strong in your complaint.
- Keep it going: If you get no response make the lack of response your next complaint!
- Keep it public: Don’t agree to divert to direct messaging. You might as well email.
It is also useful to repeat your complaint to someone with a lot of Twitter followers who may be influential. ‘I am having a real problem of yyy with @xxxxxx about zzz. What can I do?’
When writing the actual tweet, be sure to include the most shocking or interesting bit of information. Since you only have 140 characters to work with, you’ll want to catch the attention of the company (and anyone listening) right off the bat.
If you’ve got a particularly detailed story to tell, you might want to write a blog post about it and link to it in your tweet. Just make sure you put in the most eye-catching detail in the tweet itself so it actually gets read.
You also have the option to tag other account in the tweet, in order to raise the profile of the complaint. Think about who might be interested in this story – prominent journalists, consumer advocacy groups, local politicians. If you include one or two interested parties, the company is more likely to respond to all of you.
And lastly, make sure you’re monitoring your own @mentions folder to see when the company responds. It doesn’t do you any good to complain and then not hear the response! And if you don’t hear back in about 48 hours, you can send a reminder tweet that they still haven’t replied to your original tweet.
As more and more of us use Twitter to complain, it may become less useful. But the fact it is public and has the potential to go viral and embarrass the firm is a huge advantage over all other ways of complaining.
—www.punchng.com,www.saga.co.uk & www.mediabistro.com