Got a complaint? Forget the letter, take to Twitter!

– By Kristina Lee

Remember the old adage, “if you have nothing nice to say, just don’t say it at all”? In today’s Tweeting, Facebooking, and emailing world, it should be if you don’t have anything nice to say, vent it through social media. Just as powerful as online reviews and even more damning than a hand written letter to the CEO (which may never get there), you can find customer experience stories and complaints flooding social media posts.

A prime example of using social media to get your feedback to the right people happened just the other day. I work in the downtown core of the city and one of the best places to get lunch on a busy Monday – Friday work rush is at one of Vancouver’s infamous food carts. Known for their friendly customer service (for the most part) and efficient portions, I’m proud to say that we are home to world-class, delicious food carts…for the most part. On a typical Wednesday lunch hour, I decided to try a new food cart and put my order in for their featured specialty. The cart was relatively busy, but not super swamped. From the minute I walked up to the window, the chefs at the cart were completely stoned-face and avoided eye contact with me. I placed my order without so much of a “thank you,” “how are you,” and a nonchalant attitude when he gave me back my change (tossed the coins and bills on the counter, by the way!) Given the big city rush that we live in, this frigidity, while noticed, I was perfectly fine with not making a fuss so long as they gave me my order and sent me on my way.

What made this even more disappointing was that the customers they served after me were welcomed with a cheery face, addressed with a respectful, “what can I get you today, sir?”, “thanks and enjoy your order!” To top it off, when my order was ready they simply called out the order and left it at the window for me to walk up to, and then chose to serve the next couple of orders by looking for the next people up in the line with a huge smile and warm attitude.

The combination of waiting for my order, watching all of this and grabbing my order for lunch was a kick in the pants. Time was ticking, and I really felt that the differential treatment I was experiencing was also not going unnoticed by the others in the line. So with my order in my hands on my way back to the office, I decided to post my experience on their Facebook page to voice my discontent in a few short, brief and respectful comments. Within a couple of days (still a bit long in my eyes), they replied my post, apologized and offered my next lunch on the house.

Whether or not I’m going back there is another thing, but the cart addressed the problem and attempted to make things better. Regardless of whether it was their intention to be rude, or I simply have a different definition of customer service, in the end they were willing to address it and make amends.

This got me thinking. Twitter and Facebook are powerful ways to get your messages, complaints and kudos to the right people. As we already know, consumers are getting smarter and more sophisticated when it comes to providing feedback. You can see two-way communication pop up throughout the web in all its forms—everything from businesses trying to get you to “like” their products/services on Facebook to companies trying to get you to “follow,” them on Twitter, all promising to provide you with the latest updates and a more “personal” connection to the latest news and updates.

This open communication lends itself to the fact that everyone including the like/follow bandwagon also has the ability to publicize their praises and condemnations for the rest of the fans and strangers alike to see. There isn’t really a filter anymore, and any business is always at risk of getting slammed, or having their ego stroked on their social media profiles.

Try it for yourself. I’m curious to know if you’ve done the same and how you took to drafting up your “letter of complaint?”

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One thought on “Got a complaint? Forget the letter, take to Twitter!

  1. In a way, voicing a complaint on Facebook or Twitter gives customers the upper hand. As you mentioned, their praises and condemnations are public for all the world to see. That is very different from drafting a letter or calling customer service where it is not seen by the masses. Social media creates a sense of urgency for businesses to respond – and quickly. The longer they wait, the harder it is to make amends and keep their reputation in tact. This shows how important it is for businesses to listen to what customers are saying online.

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