Want to complain? Go online…!

A survey of 2,000 UK consumers reveals that social media now ranks as a go-to platform for making complaints about a company’s products or services. Commissioned by eGain, the leading provider of cloud and on-site customer interaction software, and conducted by Vision Critical, the survey asked consumers to rank in order of preference which communication channels they use to make a complaint. Channels included letter, email, phone call, social media, or web chat.

Key findings from the survey:

  • Social media makes its mark – 5% of 18-35 year olds use Twitter or Facebook before resorting to any other means of communication.
  • Email reigns supreme – 47% of UK consumers will go online (email and web chat) to complain about a product or service rather than choose traditional methods of placing a phone call (33%) or writing a letter (17%). Email proved the most popular channel with 3 out of 4 consumers selecting email as a top two preference.
  • Generation gap – Despite the rise of the silver surfer, 18-35 year olds are almost twice as likely to use the web as their first port of call to make a complaint (61%) compared to those aged 55 or older. Traditional forms of communication (letter, phone call) become significantly more popular in older age groups.

Andrew Mennie, general manager of eGain EMEA, comments: “We’re seeing a distinct ‘butterfly effect’ as consumers choose to air their grievances on social media channels: a small number of vociferous users can have a disproportionately loud voice and viral visibility in social networks. However, we’d advise organisations not to panic and take a systematic approach in picking whom, when and how to respond.

“As companies look to go social, they should make sure to avoid creating a silo that is not joined up with other interaction channels. Integrating social media into a unified multi-channel service strategy and leveraging a common knowledge platform enables businesses to provide consistent, context-aware and accurate customer service and build loyalty. Moreover, this approach allows them to take explosive social conversations private in a seamless manner, and bring happy endings back to the social cloud.”