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Social Media – not the best way to complain

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.

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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

5 ways how not to use Twitter to complain (and 5 ways how you should)

The Complaining Cow’s Top 20 Tips for How to Complain Effectively!

5 top tips for complaining effectively

How to contact a CEO for complaints

Why you should write not ‘phone to complain effectively

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And if you need help with complaining effectively and making sure you are never fobbed off. GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!




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101 Habits of an Effective Complainer provides you with more tips like the one in this post





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The Complaining Cow – free support for businesses

Want to do the right thing for your customers and get them coming back time and time again? Here are some resources.

It takes 5 times as much to gain a new customer to retain one. So work on turning your customers into superfans who do much of the heavy lifting for you!

Join the Facebook Group Increase Sales through Customer Service: Compassion, Care and  Integrity  A private group where you can give and get support, advice and share good practice on how to improve customer service.

Free download Customer Service 5 ways to get rave reviews & referrals a few tweaks to your customer service can help you reduce the risk to your company’s reputation, finances and impact on customers and increase sales.

The Complaining Cow Services for businesses If you would you like to turn past, present and future fans into superfans who rave about your business and do the marketing for you. Or you want to know more about how to improve customer service and find out what consumers want then contact Helen


Customer Service how to turn customers into superfans raving about your products/services

Complaining about customer service Complaining about faulty goods

3 More habits of an effective complainer

Techniques to improve your complaining skills!

If you are not used to complaining, don’t like complaining, get fobbed off easily, but don’t like being out of pocket there are things you can do to help you improve your technique.

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See  101 Habits of an Effective Complainer and for detailed help of laws, template letters information and advice get How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!





But in the meantime here are three more tips:

shapes border how to improve your complaining habits

1) Believe complaining effectively is not negative

Many people will say that complaining is negative, brings down your mood etc. This can be the case, when you are not effective. Do something about the complaint. That is being positive, moaning can be damaging and bring you and others down. Saying “I complained and I got my refund/repair/redress…” etc. is a very positive statement which can encourage others to complain effectively and get results.

Complaining is good for your health! When I wrote an article about this on LinkedIn years ago there wasn’t anyone who disagreed! Peter, who provides leadership coaching and mentoring, said “Complaining is NOT negative – if that’s not a double negative !! 🙂 but some people exploit that perception in order to make you feel bad about raising concerns etc. Great businesses see complaints as a way of raising their game. Bad ones shoot the messengers, in general.”

2) Point out helpful feedback

If appropriate to the situation, point out to the company to which you are complaining that you hope that your feedback has been useful to them in developing their customer service. This demonstrates that you are looking to continue shopping with them if they handle the matter well.

Gavin Patterson was CEO of the BT Group from September 2013 until February 2019. He spent an hour each day responding personally to customer emails. See Calling all CEOs: please read emails from your customers and learn about your own business.

He believes that customer feedback is the single most important category of information coming into the business.

3) Don’t be opportunistic

Effective complainers are not about seeing a complaint every time they go into a shop or receive a service. It is simply about complaining when things genuinely go wrong.

Remember The Complainers documentary on Channel 4 in 2014? The Complainers Giving Complainers a Bad Name?

There were examples of people who complained just for the sake of it who went on and on and on at the same people for trivial things and they made themselves look very silly! As The Daily Telegraph put it “the difference between a valid complaint and a cathartic lashing-out was one of several distinctions largely ignored by The Complainers.”


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For lots of help, consumer laws, advice and  templates GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!