A report out this week looked at response times from companies when you complain about them on their Facebook wall. The times ranged from less than one hour to… never. Why do some companies get it so wrong?
I wouldn’t expect to queue for 24 hours at a customer service till in a shop, but if I email a company I’m happy for them to take a couple of days to respond.
Conversely, if I wrote them a letter, I wouldn’t expect them to phone me the next day and resolve my complaint within five minutes.
Gold stars for Next and Asos
At Which? we love seeing companies dealing quickly and efficiently with complaints – it’s part of their job. So when I saw a report this week that praised Next and Asos for speedy responses to customer complaints on Facebook, I was delighted.
They both averaged response times of less than an hour – around the time I’d expect a company to deal with a complaint via social media.
This shows that both companies obviously pay attention to what customers are saying, and crucially, appreciate that this particular medium is speedier than traditional letters or emails.
Amazon snoozes & loses
But the bad news? Some companies just aren’t doing it at all. Over the course of the study (carried out by a web company called ‘Conversocial’), Amazon did not respond to a single complaint or query from a customer. What makes it worse is that they weren’t on holiday – they were still posting lots of marketing messages and special deals which these frustrated customers will have seen.
It’s the equivalent of a supermarket assistant ignoring you queuing at the tills for a refund, while shouting ‘Special deals! Buy one get one free!’ at the other customers in the shop. Bad move.
If something’s worth doing…
If I tweet at one of my friends asking them for advice or telling them a joke, I don’t expect to wait three days for a response (unless it’s a particularly awful joke). Likewise if I tweet at a company about their customer service I’d expect them to respond within a reasonable time – one to two hours during office hours, at most.
I know many people don’t like to use social networks, and companies may only grudgingly have a presence on these sites, but surely they realise that if they have it, they should use it properly. And companies like Amazon, whose main business is online, should be leading the way in this kind of customer service, not lagging behind.
Not responding promptly to tweets or Facebook messages is like having a customer service phone line that goes straight to answerphone. The messages playing over and over again to deaf ears – never listened to, and never resolved.
It would be like having a complaints email address that goes to the intern who left two years ago. Or a postal address that redirects letters straight to your recycling bin.
Companies need to wake up to the fact that people want to contact them via social media, and that these complaints are just as important as any other. After all, the customer’s problem is the same regardless of how it comes to their attention. Don’t shoot the messenger, I say.