Many of us have disappointing experiences to share about buying a product or using a service. Yes, you can call in to the company, or send in some form of written complaint, but you might not reach someone who can help you — or it can take a while to get a response. You might have better luck, though, going online with your concerns. Here’s what you need to do.
Customer Service Via Social Media
When one of my credit card issuers sent me a letter informing me of a new annual fee, I tweeted by disappointment — using the issuer’s name. Clearly, there are customer service people monitoring Twitter, looking for such mentions. Immediately, a customer service rep messaged me, and asked for my phone number. After a quick phone call, my annual fee was waived. Other companies respond to customer service issues via Twitter, and you are likely to find that a simple tweet, or a simple posting elsewhere on social media, can help you find a better outcome.
You can also leave feedback on various web sites designed for consumer conversation, like Consumerist. Other places that it might make sense to complain include sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and even your own blog. When I expressed my disappointment with a local restaurant on my own blog a few years ago, the restaurant owner left his own comment, apologizing, and inviting me back for a free meal, so I would give them a second chance.
Of course, not every online complaint is going to be answered, but there are some things you can do to enhance your credibility. First of all, don’t turn your complaint into a long rant about the evils of the company. Stick to the facts of your particular experience, state the problem, and be as brief as possible.
Many company web sites now offer you the chance to offer feedback in forums, or in blog comments. If you decide to do this, make sure that you understand the guidelines for posting on the site. In most cases, name calling, obscenity and other similar behaviors aren’t tolerated. This is why it’s important to be polite and factual when expressing your disappointment.
Also, be aware that some service providers are prone to bringing lawsuits against you if post negative items publicly. Carefully consider your words, and make sure your opinion is backed up by some sort of evidence. Accusing companies and individuals of being crooks, or making other allegations can come back to haunt you. While you are protected in your opinion, coming out with libelous statements online are another matter.
Knowing What You Want
If someone does contact you about your disappointment, make sure you know what you want, whether it’s the same DVR deal new customers get with your cable service, or a voucher for a free flight if you’ve had a terrible airline experience. You should know what outcome you desire, and it should be reasonable. If you had a horrible experience at a hotel (the room was dirty, etc.), you might ask for a refund. In my examples, all I wanted was to have my annual fee waived on my credit card (I didn’t take the restaurant manager up on the free meal). Consider what outcome would satisfy you, and be polite in explaining your case.
What tips do you have for complaining effectively?