Social media consumers are a very demanding lot

20 June 2013

Bitterwallet - FacebookLast week, the prospect of an online sales tax prompted a number of comments on how the customer experience is actually better online- that streamlined, efficient processes can best the personal touch of the High Street. Now, it seems that social media-savvy online consumers not only expect better service, they demand it, with a new survey claiming 55% expect a complaint made via Facebook or Twitter to be answered within just four hours.

“Consumers have very high expectations of customer service,” said Steven Van Belleghem, who carried out the research. “95 per cent find it important to be helped quickly. 89 per cent want a transparent overview of the next steps in a purchase or complaint procedure. 89 per cent expect to be treated in a very friendly manner and 88 per cent want to complete the procedure in a single contact.”

Speed is apparently paramount in consumers’ expectations, with 40% also expecting a similarly speedy response to a complaining email. Social media, and its apparent ease of access, seems only to be making consumers more demanding, rather than mollifying them.

Part of the problem can also be laid at the feet of those annoyingly efficient companies, like the swot at school, or the impossibly groomed mother on the morning school run, who turn a social media complaint around quickly and offer the disgruntled such perfect platitudes that he goes around shouting how brilliant the company in question is, mere hours after hating their guts. Great PR for the companies that can manage it, but it makes everyone else look shoddy by comparison. As Van Belleghem puts it:

“Accounts of positive experiences raise the pressure on less successful companies. Society as a whole is becoming faster and faster and customer expectations reflect this trend."

So what’s your record time (good or bad) for a response to a complaint via social media? Do you use this as your complaint avenue of choice?


  • Justin A.
    Nothing to do with speed of reply, but the most unexpected response when I've made a customer query on a FB page was with Soul Revolver. I suggested ways they could improve their sales on Ebay and they responded by banning me from the page! Someone there needs some SM training.
  • David D.
    Worst: Royal Mail. Asked them which page I needed to add my new address to their databases. Their reply was 'ring this premium rate customer number!' Best: Web services like hosting companies and mailing marketing services always answer within the hour.
  • Her L.
    Complaining to a company on social media should have the same impact as taking a trip to the offending company's Head Office, walking into reception and defecating on the coffee table.
  • Shrinking B.
    [...] media has shrunk the time people are willing to wait even further. New research, by consultant Steven Van Belleghem, has found that 55% of respondents who raise a customer service issue via Facebook or Twitter [...]
  • James
    Yes I agree, social media in on peak now during these past yers now. They have also got there shared on PPC market

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