Social Media Users are More Vocal with Complaints

While advertisers look to social media to spread positive word-of-mouth about their brands and products, it’s no secret that social media is also a veritable cauldron of consumer complaint -- a forum for jilted customers to voice dissatisfaction with crappy products, bad service, or just general dislike of a company. And the consequences for brands are real and serious, according to a new survey published by American Express. The survey was conducted by Echo Research in U.S., Canada, Mexico, France, Germany, Italy, the U.K., the Netherlands, Australia, Japan and India, from February 22-29; 1,000 adults ages 18+ were polled in each country.

Social media users who have bad customer service experiences will tell a whopping 53 people about their misfortune on average, according to the AmEx-Echo survey, compared to an average 24 people for the general population. People who don’t use social media tell “only” 17 people about their complaints, meaning social media has a more than threefold complaint-amplifying effect.

On the positive side, social media users will tell an average 42 people about a good service experience, versus an average 15 for the general population, and nine for consumers who don’t use social media. Social media users also said they’d spend 21% more, on average, on a company with good service, compared to 13% more for consumers who don’t use social media.

While it’s good to know social media users will give credit where credit is due, it’s also easy to see they are more vocal about bad experiences than good experiences. Perhaps equally alarming, social media can itself be the source of customer service complaints. Indeed, 83% of consumers who use social media have decided not to make a purchase because they received poor customer service on social media. Among consumers who don’t use social media, just 49% said they had decided against a purchase because of poor customer service.

2 comments about "Social Media Users are More Vocal with Complaints".
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  1. Andrew Koven from Geoff & Drew's, May 12, 2012 at 3:25 p.m.

    Great information and actionable information. Social Media and Marketing needs to be supported by Social CRM.

  2. Grant Crowell from, May 12, 2012 at 9:32 p.m.

    Unfortunately many businesses still treat their social media pages as a broadcasting tool, rather than use it for any person-to-person customer relations, or even any communications that come from a person who either seems to care or know what to do.

    Social media is a "promise" to the public. By putting yourself out there, you're saying you are available and willing to dialogue. Otherwise it's akin to false advertising, and customers will express their indignation across their own social networks for what is truly bad customer service.

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