Posted November 4, 2013 3:54 pm by with 1 comment

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The good news and bad news about social media is that it’s instant communication. It’s real-time access to customers and it’s changeable on the fly. Having a slow day at the restaurant – post a limited time offer for a side dish with your lunch on Twitter and Facebook. Can’t do that with a print ad.

The downside is that customers expect a fast response when they address a brand through social media and that’s not always practical or possible.

Lithium Technologies conducted a survey about this very topic and here’s what they found:

  • 53% of consumers who expected a response from a brand expected it within an hour.
  • That percentage rises to 72% when they’ve posted a complaint.

Putting on my consumer hat for a moment, I kind of agree. If I’m annoyed enough to post a complaint on Twitter, then I’m not interested in a 24 hours later response. I can get that by emailing customer service. That may be unreasonable but businesses have done it to themselves. A year ago, I wouldn’t have even considered complaining on Twitter but now I see that people often get a quick response, so it’s now an option.

Putting on my social media manager hat – grrr. I try hard to respond to people in a timely manner but it’s tricky. You can have all Twitter mentions ping your phone, but if the account is popular, that’ll just drive you mad. But people also use Facebook comments and Facebook messaging to ask questions, so you have to monitor that every hour, too.

If people are leaving complaints on any other social media service, like Pinterest or Instagram. . . well, that’s just silly.

So what happens if you don’t respond within the hour?

  • 38% of the people in the survey said they feel more negative about the brand
  • 60% said they would take “unpleasant actions to express their dissatisfaction.”

Wow, that’s harsh. Reminds me of the guy who paid for a promoted Tweet to berate the airline who lost his dad’s luggage.

It gets worse:

 74% of customers who take to social media to shame brands believe it leads to better service.

I’ve been driven to this level, so I get it but a company shouldn’t have to publicly dodge bullets every time they make a small mistake. It happens.

The reality is, you can’t please everyone and some people are just going to go public with issues that could have been easily resolved with an email and some patience. On the other hand, there are companies who blatantly ignore the basic tenets of  “customer service.” If you’re going to mess with people who paid good money for a product or service, then you get what you get.

Here’s some good news from the survey:

The study also revealed that when brands provide customers with timely responses:

  • 34 percent are likely to buy more from that company;
  • 43 percent are likely to encourage friends and family to buy their products;
  • 38 percent are more receptive to their advertisements;
  • 42 percent are willing to praise or recommend the brand through social media.

I’m sure you’re doing a great job monitoring your social media accounts, but you should go check them right now – just in case.

  • No matter what the message is, it is important to respond promptly. For any negative comments, take the conversation offline. For positive comments make sure you thank that person and don’t forget to share it too!