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conversocial-facebook-complaints.jpgDespite growing interest, social customer service still has limited structure, according to [pdf] a November 2011 white paper from Conversocial. Data from “Who’s Ignoring their Customers?” indicates that among the 10 most loved and hated retailers in the US on social media, the majority ignored more inquiries on their Facebook pages than responded within 30 minutes during a 5-day period of investigation in September. Although Costco, Kmart, Kroger were the worst offenders, ignoring all inquiries, others also fared poorly: Macy’s ignored almost double the amount of inquiries than it responded to within 30 minutes (35% vs. 18%), as did Dillards (25% vs. 13%). By contrast, Sears responded to 57% of its inquiries within a half-hour, compared to just 11% that went ignored. Safeway, which received 129 complaints and questions, also fared well, ignoring just 5% while responding to 2 in 5 within 30 minutes.

To determine the most loved and hated retailers, Conversocial accessed the Amplicate listing of Loved and Hated brands on September 21, 2011, which measured brands according to positive and negative mentions on social media within the prior 30-day period.

Average Response Time Also Poor

Among the brands studied, most responded within 1 to 4 hours, but none averaged under an hour. In fact, not even half displayed an average response time of under 4 hours. The retailers with a larger volume of complaints – Sears, Walmart, and Safeway – were the fasted of the list, followed by Nordstrom, Bloomingdales, and Macy’s.

Contact Can Produce Results

Retailers can use social media to turn consumers who have had a negative experience with their brand into brand advocates, though. According to a March 2011 report from RightNow and Harris Interactive, of the 68% of US consumers who posted a complaint or negative review of a holiday shopping experience during the 2010 holiday season and were contacted by the retailer, 34% deleted their original negative review. Another 33% turned around and posted a positive review, while 18% became a loyal customer and bought more. These figures mean that 85% of customers who posted a negative review of a shopping experience and were then contacted by the retailer wound up taking an action that was positive for the retailer. Two-thirds (67%) of them took an action through social media directly negating their original negative posting.

Size May Attract Complaints, but Not Necessarily Fans

conversocial-retailers-fan-base.jpgAccording to the Conversocial white paper, Sears, the 3rd largest retailer of the brands studied with over 2,000 stores, fielded 162 complaints in the week of investigation, compared with Macy’s, a chain of only 850 stores, which only saw 31 complaints. However, chain size does not appear to be an indicator of fan size: Macy’s enjoys over 2.5 million Facebook fans, compared to less than 900,000 for Sears. Similarly, Kroger, the 2nd largest retailer, has far less fans than Nordstrom, the 2nd smallest brand by number of stores.

Larger Brands More Disliked

There appears to be a strong correlation between a brand’s chain size and its public image: the 5 most-hated brands were also those with the largest amount of retail stores, led by Wal-Mart, Kroger, and Sears. By contrast, Bloomingdales, Nordstrom, and Dillards, which appeared on the list of most loved stores, have the fewest chains among the brands studied.

Market Force: Kohl’s is Favorite Fashion Retailer

For the third year in a row, Kohl’s has been voted America’s favorite fashion retail chain, according to a survey released in November 2011 by Market Force information. When indexed by store count, Nordstrom ranked as consumers’ second favorite, followed by Macy’s, Dillard’s, and JC Penny.

About the Data: Conversocial reviewed the 10 retailers’ Facebook pages from September 15-21 (not including the weekend) to assess how quickly and how often they responded to complaints and questions. They awarded scores of 0 to 5 for each response and took an average for each retailer. The average response time was taken for all complaints and queries left on the Facebook pages during the week of investigation, including both responses and non-responses.

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