Earlier this year, BBC’s The One Show carried out an experiment to see how quickly companies would respond to complaints made on Twitter.

The programme contacted five companies via the social media site, asking them to get in touch about a problem. The first reply came back in just three minutes and all five firms had responded after a little over an hour.

The little exercise goes to show that companies take complaints received via social media incredibly seriously.

An increasing number of unhappy customers are taking advantage of sites such as Twitter and Facebook to vent their frustration.  And unlike an angry phone-call or strongly worded letter, the complaints are out there for all to see and have the potential to be liked, shared or retweeted by others.

This makes it even more important that when an issue arises it is handled calmly, quickly and with courtesy.

Not getting back to customers or clients is only likely to antagonise them further, while failing to take a grievance seriously could see things rapidly get out of hand.

You may remember that Tesco’s customer care team found themselves in a spot of bother during last year’s horse meat scandal.

Having already received a fair share of comments from concerned customers, the supermarket giant tweeted that staff were “off to hit the hay” after a long shift. The ill-judged joke, and the backlash that followed, received widespread coverage in the following day’s newspapers.

Conversely, a prompt, polite response goes a long way towards defusing a situation and demonstrating that your business genuinely wants to help. In some cases, the same person who complained in the morning may be praising your professionalism by the end of the day.

Categories: Blog