In the early days of social media, many brands had a real concern about consumers using these new platforms to seek out freebies.
Whether it was a customer complaining about a restaurant experience or claiming that a packaged good didn’t live up to expectations, brands were often concerned about publicly offering replacements or coupons in fear of opening the flood gates to greedy onlookers.
Why Customers Complain on Social
We can now report that, in our many years of experience, customers complaining on social are rarely looking for a handout. And, recent research from Sprout Social backs that claim. Most often, complaining customers are simply looking to raise awareness among fellow consumers (70%) or gain an apology or solution (55%) from the brand they’re targeting. Less than half the time are they looking for a refund (38%) or seeking a discount (19%).
The Impact of Social Media Complaints
Interestingly, only 17 percent of consumers polled said that they wouldn’t buy from a business again after seeing negative complaints on social media. The vast majority (65%) said they would conduct further research before making a purchase. In our opinion, this creates a great opportunity for the savvy brand to monitor for and appropriately and promptly respond to complaints. In many cases customers just want to be heard and for the 65 percent of consumers who are researching before a purchase, they’re likely to see your brand’s thoughtful responses to complaints as a sign that a brand has the customer’s best interest in mind.
Brands That Respond Well, Do Well
To that end, brands that do a good job responding to social media complaints reap the benefits. Nearly half (45%) of consumers will post about a positive interaction with a brand on social media. More than 35 percent will share the interaction with their friends on- and offline, and they’re likely to buy from the brand again. Only six percent hold a grudge and continue their boycott.
Brands That Respond Poorly Suffer the Consequences
On the flip side, brands that respond poorly to social media complaints will suffer. Half (50%) of consumers will boycott the brand, and 40 percent will share the interaction with their friends offline and online. Nearly a third (31%) will post about the issue again on social and more than a quarter (26%) will simply unfollow the brand on social.
Top Takeaways – Listen and Respond
The value of listening and responding to your customer base on social media cannot be underestimated. We’ve shared the stories of brands that have done this well over the years (New York Police Department and Maker’s Mark) and we’re proud to work with brands that continue to do it well today. It’s good to know that in the rapidly changing world of social media, some of the tried-and-true strategies stay the same.