5 Problems Generated By Customer’s Social Media Complaints and the Solutions

Posted By on Feb 17, 2012 | 15 comments

The goal of this blog is to engage, inform, and develop an overall understanding of social communication. Period. I just happen to use my personal experience to create content that will drive conversation. That being said… my negative customer service post from earlier this week has been generating large amounts of buzz both online and offline.I understand that I can be a little harsh so I wanted to end the week by being more constructive to help businesses navigate negative commentary generated from social media.

What can we learn from the situation? What problems arise from negative online reviews/complaints and what are the solutions.


Problem 1: Not Monitoring Online Chatter

There were multiple posts and reviews about the lunch problem and the company had not responded using the same vehicle of communication (social). When users are searching for information pertaining to a company it is important that they read a company response from an old complaint whether Twitter, Google Reviews, Foursquare, or Facebook.

Solution – Google Alerts and tools like Tweetdeck allow for companies/individuals to easily monitor social feeds from Facebook to Twitter. Listening is the easiest thing to do in the online environment and it is extremely important to the success of an online strategy. You do not want to NOT know that a blog post, review, tweet, or Facebook post was generated

Problem 2 : No Formal Customer Service Training From Corporate

The local manager does a great job with taking care of customers when they complain in person. I know that for a fact. However, what happens when a consumer doesn’t have the time and calls the first number they find to complain? What happens when the consumer is Internet inclined?

Solution – Training and stressing the overall importance of customer communication is key in this situation. Upper management should be communicating the importance of all customers whether online or offline. Company training goes a long way in reducing the stress caused by a customer complaining about a situation. It is imperative that every employee understands that the customer is in control of the situation.

Problem 3 : Lack of Updated Contact Form on Website

This pertains to fear more than anything else. When a company website is behind on the times and not updating frequently you may have an issue with people trying to contact you, viewing the website on their mobile device, or just finding the website in general.

Solution- When searching for an email or number to call it is important that the website be compatible to the online environment. It also helps to use an email contact form to give consumers the options to email the company directly instead of just a phone number. Give the consumer an email form and allow them to pick the location they want to email. WordPress is a great tool to use to update your website cheaply and efficiently. 

Problem 4 – 70% of Companies Ignore Customer Service Complaints on Twitter

Jay Baer pointed out late last year that 70% of companies ignore complaints on Twitter. Crazy right?

Solution- Jay also found that 83% of the complainants that received a reply liked or loved the fact that the company responded. They saved the consumer from breaking-up with the brand entirely. If you chose to not fix the situation it is up to the consumer to draw an overall conclusion. Maybe the brand doesn’t care about all customers?

Problem 5 – Ignoring the Power of  The Growing Customer Network

In this age of social media companies no longer have the luxury of a complaint being heard by 10 people and then disappearing. For example – the blog post that I wrote on Monday received: +2500 unique views, +350 tweets, +25 comments on FB,  and +5 new interactions on Foursquare. The truth? We know it will blow over but it will not disappear.

Solution – Use negative experiences to bond and network with consumers to turn the experience into something positive. Contact the person directly, win them over, and then use them as an advocate to build your brand online. Your customer has a much stronger voice and can use it for your benefit.


It is imperative that companies realize that your customer is changing. It is no longer a matter of great customer service in-store. It matters that customer service and the brand extends far beyond the brick and glass.

“What I do care about is that you conclude that your company needs to change the way you deal with the customer now, because the customer has already changed the way they deal with you.” – Paul Greenburg



  1. It’s quite possible that your idea here could create more jobs than Obama has. It at least adds value to people who have stopped reading “Onions” (criticism) in the newspaper and pay attention to what customers are saying on social media sites. No change= death. As a minister, I always trying to remind our leaders/congregation that we are one generation away from extension unless we evolve in our strategies.

    Another thing I appreciate about your post is that you passionately complained and then graciously gave a number of solutions to the same company (hopefully they are reading this post).

    When they win, you win.

    While reading Branding Yourself, the most important lesson I took away is that we should always try to “add value” to the people/businesses around you!

    Since ExactTarget is so close to SBCC, you want them to win. You can proudly take customers/clients to SBCC when they properly address customer service.

    Great post Kyle!

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  2. As one of the initial challengers to your first post, I have to say BRAVO!

    This post is entirely more concise, relevant, and actionable for any business size, regardless of resources. This post is a teaching tool I could bring to any business and they'd understand the problem, the solution, and practitioner in Indy (YOU!) that "gets it" (both the current ecosystem and its opportunities AND their business/resource challenges).

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  3. Man I need to pay attention to auto correct. Extension = extinction
    I= I’m

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  4. I also criticized your last post, and I must say this one is excellent. Nice work.

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  5. It's a fine post but still moot in the highly competitive food service industry. A reading of the conversation with the "Corporate Manager" demonstrates NO suggestions to solve the problem of excessive wait times. eg. a "take a number" system which would allow customers to browse the store or step outside to make calls, read news or email without losing their place in line

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    • There are a couple of reasons why I did not think of a take a number system. Number one – I write a "digital communication and social media" blog. I am not a restaurant centric writer… at all. Number two – I do not work in the restaurant industry.

      The point of the posts is to talk about communication changes not cash registers, take a number systems, or a point-of-sale system upgrades.

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      • So just to be clear, your original intent was not to actually help SBCC improve their customer service and experience but to passive/aggressively shame them into communicating on tweeter, 4 score or email as opposed to their preferred face-to-face method. Got it.

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        • I'm not sure this comment even makes sense. The entire point of both blog posts was to improve their customer service.

          If you would like to write a guest post for my blog.. I would be happy to accommodate.

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  6. SBCC probably uses the less profitable cafe' to drive business to its primary, and more profitable OTC candy counter anyway. Imho The notion of hiring an employee to "monitor social feeds" is simply absurd and unaffordable for a specialty store like SBCC. Good Day!

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    • I also find hiring an employee to monitor social feeds completely absurd. It is a good thing I never advised them to do such a thing! Right?

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  7. Kyle, again your plain common-sense advice and tips highlight the need for companies and organisations to beware of social media etc. distracting them from always adhering to the tried and tested truths in business and engaging with the public.

    If an organisation has failed to provide ‘Formal Customer Service Training’, that is a damning indictment of that organisation – not on social media grounds, but on the grounds of basic professional standards and metrics that companies and organisations ought always observe.
    You're seeking to be constructive, and your stressing the core importance of training and customer communication is truly constructive.

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  8. No reply on complaints and poor customer representative support is the most basic problem. Most of customer support, if they don't know how to deal with the complaints they often say the script which the company provide and wait more days or sometimes you need to follow up your complains which is really hassle if you don't have much time. Hope companies are aware of these problems, especially the well established ones.

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