Want Satisfaction? Take Your Customer Complaint Online

by Miranda Marquit · 11 comments

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.

Complaining Effectively

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?

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • Megan says:

    Don’t forget to praise companies publicly when you’ve had a good experience as well! Sometimes we only focus on the negative and take the positive experiences for granted.

  • Veronica @ Pelican on Money says:

    Now, if we could only do something about the cable monopolies in this country! How about we put together a tweet-a-thon to shame them to the ground!

  • Rick says:

    Yea, it is amazing how so many of the companies track Twitter feeds. I read about another story by a blogger about how a product she bought made by a new manufacturer had some problems and when she tweeted about it, immediately a rep was in touch with her and worked tirelessly till the issue was resolved to her satisfaction.

  • David @ SEO-writer.ca says:

    I keep getting these spam phone calls from Pitney Bowes. In frustration, I tweeted about it. The company almost immediately followed me and tweeted me. Smart companies are monitoring our gripes. Then again, smart companies don’t spam you over and over and over.

  • DHnLA says:

    This is not exactly the same as getting results from socia media, but it is sort of similar. I have found that third-party companies that use Amazon Marketplace to sell their products, tend to respond very quickly to negative feedback left on Amazon.

  • Bri says:

    My friend had a problem with not receiving an order from a company due to the fact that it was being shipped from a third party to an international destination. She had called and emailed the company multiple times to no avail. I complained about the issue on Twitter and was able to get an immediate response. The issue was resolved within a few hours using social media while taking a more traditional route she had been back and forth with the company for months.

  • Roxy says:

    Social media definitely helps. I recently had an experience with a rude Delta employee. I called Delta and the lady on the other end was very nice and apologized, and politely said that some people have bad days.

    I wasn’t satisfied and I tweeted delta through my phone. I got an instant direct message too where they wanted more information to get on the problem immediately.

    I also want to re-iterate what you said. Complain with kindness. It is the best way to yield results.

    And I’m surprised you didn’t take the owner up on his offer for a free meal!

  • sarah says:

    This is just what I needed to read today. I’m having to publicly complain in order to get the result I need from a couple of wicked companies.

  • sophie says:

    Social media is a great way to get your complaint seen by not only the company, but by other consumers. This hurts the companys reputation and they will be more likely to listen and resolve it.

  • MoneyPerk says:

    It has become more and more popular to complain about businesses about their products or services. This was a very good read, because I think people rant too much and get nothing out of it. It’s essential to get the most out of your complaint, for yourself and to help the company out as well.

  • Emily says:

    Never thought about using Twitter to complain. But nice to hear it could get results.

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