Brands Slow to Respond to Complaints Posted on Social Media

SMMU-Brand-Response-to-Complaints-on-Social-Feb2014About 6 in 10 brands receive customer complaints via social media occasionally, while close to 1 in 6 receive them “somewhat” (10.9%) or “very” (4.9%) often, finds a survey from Social Media Marketing University (SMMU). Despite what seems like a relatively high incidence of complaints, few brands responding to the survey have strategies in place to deal with the complaints, and most are slow to respond to the criticism.

In fact, fewer than 1 in 5 respondents said they respond to complaints within an hour. And although a slight majority do so within 24 hours, more than 1 in 5 say they rarely – if ever – respond to customer complaints made via social.

Those brands could be in for an earful from customers: a recent survey from Millward Brown Digital commissioned by Lithium Technologies discovered that a slight majority of Twitter users who expect brands to respond to their tweets feel that those responses should come in less than an hour. When there’s a complaint involved, 72% demand a quick response. The punishment for those brands that can’t meet those expectations? 6 in 10 will “take unpleasant actions to express their dissatisfaction,” with those actions including shaming the brand on social media.

Indeed, about one-quarter of the brands responding to the SMMU survey said that their reputations had been tarnished due to negative social media posts. A significant portion also said they had lost customers (15.2%) and revenue (11.4%).

These results stem from a lack of strategy to deal with complaints: almost 1 in 4 respondents said they do not have a strategy in place to manage negative social comments – and that they do not have plans to develop one. Another 1 in 4 are developing a strategy, while 8% have strategies that aren’t proving to be effective. In other words, only a minority at best have effective strategies in place.

The study brings to mind a similar one conducted a couple of years ago by Ethical Corporation and Useful Social Media. That research found that of the companies surveyed that had been subject to social media criticism, fully 72% rated their preparedness as average or below, with 20% being completely unprepared.

About the Data: The SMMU survey was conducted from February 10-13, 2014. There were 1,036 respondents, including marketers, social media professionals, C-level executives and business owners/entrepreneurs. The survey was distributed via email using Survey Gizmo.