Have you ever tweeted a company to complain about their product or service? Did you receive a satisfactory outcome?

A few years ago, the main way of complaining to a company was via telephone or letter. But, increasingly, social platforms such as Twitter are being used by customers to vent their grievances.

Many companies now deal with complaints via social media. However, there is a disparity in how they approach overall customer service on social media platforms such as Twitter.

If you tweet a company to complain, they should view your complaint as an opportunity. A successful resolution to your grievance may turn you into a customer advocate. Potentially, you might then decide to share the positive outcome on Twitter. This can only be good news for a company’s image.

Personally, I’ve had a varied response when tweeting companies my grievances. One complaint I made is an example of how not to deal with customers. The firm took nearly one week to respond, failed to understand the nature of my complaint and didn’t resolve the issue. Not a great example of customer service!

I’ve also had situations where a company has worked hard to rectify a problem. In some cases, exceeding my expectations. Such a response helps to develop trust and retain customers. So, what are your expectations when tweeting a company to complain about their product or service?

Customers may have different levels of expectations when it comes to resolving complaints. Although, there are a number of essentials firms need to get right. If these are achieved, then there is every likelihood that your complaint will be dealt with in a satisfactory way. Below are 10 essentials you should expect when complaining to a company on Twitter:

#1. Recognise that not every problem can be resolved through Twitter

A company should ask you to direct message your email address. This prevents a possible escalation of the problem being made public. Also, it’s likely that they can resolve the problem more efficiently offline.

#2. Be honest and transparent

It’s important to be open and honest when dealing with customer feedback. The transparent nature of Twitter means that a brand’s reputation can easily be damaged if a company is not honest and open with its customers. Additionally, this can lead to a lack of trust in all future communication.

#3. Apologise then take offline

Once again, often the best way to deal with a complaint is to deal with it offline. This should only take place once an apology has been made on Twitter.

#4. Reply in a timely manner

As an absolute minimum you should receive a response the same day. Typically, customer expectations are the same day, or in some cases within the hour!

@JohnLewisRetail is renowned for its excellent customer service. This year, they even sent a telescope based on the John Lewis Christmas ad to a Mr John Lewis. A thank you to Mr Lewis for forwarding all the wrongly sent tweets he received throughout the year to @JohnLewisRetail.

#5. Investigate the problem

Once you’ve sent a direct message and communicated with the company, they should fully investigate the problem. Much of this investigation is likely to take place offline and should involve regular communication to keep you updated on progress.

#6. Be polite and choose language carefully when responding

A company’s initial response to your complaint needs to be polite and apologetic. The right tone of language needs to be used.

#7. Plan for different types of complaints

A company should have plans in place as to how to deal with different types of complaints. This forward planning ensures efficiency in resolving customer grievances.

#8. Be consistent in resolving complaints

A lack of consistency can soon become apparent when customers communicate the outcome of their grievance on Twitter. Adopting a consistent approach is likely to prevent any future complaints.

#9. Don’t ignore complaints unless they are trolls

Simply ignoring complaints does nothing for a company’s reputation. Again, you should expect to receive a timely response. If you do not receive a response to your Twitter post, then try using alternative means of communication.

#10. Respond to negative feedback

A company’s Twitter account will include both positive and negative feedback. There needs to be a response to all feedback. A satisfactory outcome to negative feedback can help to develop trust and retain a customer.