How quickly should a company respond to your Twitter complaint?

WASHINGTON — Social media has changed the way we complain about everything from bad customer service to a late delivery or a product that didn’t live up to expectations.

Companies are listening and responding — or, at least, they should be.

A consumer survey by D.C.-based B2B research company Clutch found that most people expect a brand to respond to comments on social media within 24 hours.

Millennials, who’ve grown up with social media, are even more demanding, with 44 percent expecting a social media response to their gripe within an hour.

When you post a gripe on a company’s Facebook, Twitter or Instagram account, it doesn’t just go to customer service. It goes to hundreds, thousands, maybe millions of people following that company. And that is empowering.

“Social media has really changed the consumer/company dynamic. It has really given the consumer more power and mobility in terms of voicing these concerns and complaints,” Toby Cox at Clutch told WTOP. “But also on the flip side, it also empowers businesses to show a more personal and humanized version of their brand.”

It is in a company’s best interest to respond to social media comments quickly.

“If there is a negative comment and the company ignores it, consumers can see that and they will think that the company doesn’t really care about the experience of their consumers,” Cox said.

Clutch’s survey found 45 percent of consumers said they would view a brand more positively if it responded to negative comments on social media.

“Being able to show the way that your business responds in a crisis is actually helpful because customers get reassurance that if something goes wrong, your business will take care of them,” said Melina Palmer, a behavioral economist and founder of The Brainy Business.

Responding quickly — “We are sorry you had a bad experience” — does not mean a company needs to remedy the complaint quickly.

“It’s not like we’re telling people, ‘You have to fix this immediately within a day or less or an hour or less,'” said Laura Reagen, CEO of health care advertising agency Activate Health. “But the company’s response has to make people feel like they’ve been heard.”

Clutch’s 2018 social media public relations survey included 532 people in the U.S. who use social media at least once per week.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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