I keep saying that social media isn’t always the best way to complain! This has been borne out in recent a survey of more than 5,000 people undertaken by the consumer organisation Which?
Consumers who had complained about an online order from major technology, fashion, DIY and homewares retailers during the pandemic were surveyed to ask about their experiences.
In the poll, social media was ranked little more effective than sending a letter when complaining to a retailer. This also doesn’t take into account, of course, that some people would class a grumble on Twitter or an enquiry about why the train is late as a complaint.
A serious complaint or something that takes more than a few lines to describe is certainly not going to get resolved on social media. It is instead taken offline to phone or email. However, social media can sometimes serve as a good method for speeding up a complaint that has previously been ignored by a company.
According to the Which? survey statistics, as interpreted by Josie Clarke of PA News:
Only 45% of the people surveyed rated technological methods such as social media, bots and text as effective ways of complaining to a retailer. Sending a letter by snail mail was thought to be as efficient by only 37% of respondents.
Similarly,45% of respondents who used social media to complain said it was an efficient option. Second only to 37% of consumers finding sending a letter by post as efficient.
Fewer than half of participants (46%) who used online chat bots said they were efficient, with the same amount saying text messaging was effective.
65% of consumers found face-to-face communication effective, with only 20% regarding it as inefficient.
65% of consumers found speaking to a real person through online chat effective. 63% said they achieved a successful outcome by talking on the phone.
Adam French, Which? consumer rights editor, said: “With so many people having made the switch to shopping online during the pandemic, it’s important to know the most efficient way to get any issues resolved.”
Businesses still invest in technology such as online chats but they would be far better investing in customer service and improving the channels by which customers want to contact companies. Chat bots, which often pop up when consumers are browsing on retailers’ websites, can really irritate consumers and often make it look like it’s the only option to use to contact the company. Companies need to understand that it isn’t about what is easiest for them, it must be about what is easiest for their customers.
Whilst there is a growing number of people who will turn to social media and technological methods, the survey shows that if companies disinvest in other methods they risk losing sales due to customers turning away and not returning. They need also to ensure that where they are making online bots available that they are available and responsive. They need to answer not only the most common questions but also need to be able to connect the customer with a real person as soon as the customer requests it.
Customers should not have to deal with poor communication in addition to their existing complaint. Customer-friendly businesses will understand this and therefore invest appropriately in customer service and suitable technology that allows customers to communicate in the ways that they require.
Help with your complaints
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