Search engines often come in handy when consumers experience a product or service failure. When they go online to register complaints, this leaves a data trail that advertisers can use to anticipate needs and product updates. Web Liquid defines "Complain Query" as a consumer accessing a search engine and imputing a complaint. This generally signals that their intent to register a complaint, and/or browse complaints registered by other consumers.
The 2010 Customer Complaint Index finds that McDonald's, Pizza Hut, Nokia, Burger King and KFC rank as the top five brands for complaint queries on mobile devices. While restaurants see the highest ratio of complaint queries to branded queries, they are not the only companies to take a hit when it comes to mobile devices.
There's value for all brands when it comes to monitoring and managing the online conversation around their brands," according to Paul Burani, partner at Web Liquid group. "The presence of a high number of complaint queries isn't necessarily a negative indicator," he says.
"There's always going to be bad feedback. The real question is how good a job is the brand doing at making themselves accessible."
That's the core of customer service, Burani says -- because it's not a matter of being searched on, but rather being found. Is the brand available when the customer needs them?
Consumers are beginning to search more on mobile devices. Performics estimates that one in six searches will occur on mobile devices this year. The performance marketing agency unit of Zenith Optimedia, owned by Publicis Groupe, projects that mobile search clicks could become greater than 16% of all Google search clicks -- mobile and desktop -- by the end of 2011.
Handset manufacturers also seem to attract complaint queries entered by consumers from mobile devices. That's because device owners often have easy access to mobile search engines at the moment most product failures occur. In this category, Nokia, Apple, BlackBerry and Samsung took the top five slots.
Overall, Toyota, Nokia, Ford, McDonald's and Honda took the top spots for the total complaint query volume per month. In 2010, Web Liquid tracked on average 7,203 monthly complaint queries for Toyota, followed by Nokia at 6,883 per month.
Interestingly, advertisers in the automotive industry are the best at tapping consumer complaints to their advantage. Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, Hyundai, Lexus and Ford do the best job of attracting the most advertisers when it comes to complaint queries. In fact, nine of the top 15 complaint queries belong to automotive brands. This could give the car manufacturers something to work on this year.