There was an experiment done on British TV recently which looked at the speeds that complaints were resolved at in companies, using both traditional methods of complaining (i.e. letter or email) against making a complaint on Twitter. In all 5 cases, the complaint on Twitter was responded to personally and quickly (the longest taking just over an hour), whereas within 24 hours, only one response had been received to a complaint by email.
Before the take-off of social networking as an everyday public forum, 24 hours to reply to a complaint would have seemed like a rapid response. Now, however, it is deemed painfully slow as we expect a response instantly. Our impatience has been heightened by being part of our hyper-connected world. I have to admit to having made a complaint myself whilst still in the place I was complaining about – an action that was not possible before smartphones and social networking. Previously, by the time we’d reached our homes and got out paper and a pen, it seemed like too much effort to make a complaint.
Hopefully, the end result of this will be that all companies will recognise that their customer service has to improve across the board, regardless of their size or stature. The effect that a negative tweet can do to a company’s reputation is huge – there are plenty of horror stories to be found to back that up – but by having good customer service practices and someone available who can respond quickly to any complaints made, we can lessen the damage done.