Complaints were not ignored in the past, but were not handled as quickly as they are now. Before the popularity of social networks, customer complaints were typically between the consumer and the company. People were not aware of other people’s issues with the company. But now, when customers are not satisfied with a product/service, they can freely talk about their problem on social media sites, vent, and may even ruin the company’s reputation. The world is their audience. That’s why companies are now reacting quickly to rectify the situation, as bad reviews can take a significant toll on their business.
Several researches agree that recovery after a service failure can make customers more satisfied and loyal than if the service failure had not occurred at all, and successful companies are aware of that. It might have taken them longer to respond to complaints when they were sent through normal channels such as emails, faxes, phone calls and letters. Companies took their time to investigate the issue, but the problem was solved most of the time. With social media, companies don’t have the luxury to delay their response. Information spreads fast from one blog to another, reaching a wide audience.
So to sum up, the difference between customer complaints in the past and now:
• Social media forces companies to respond, follow up almost immediately, but like in the past, but may not get a fast resolution
• It increases awareness of consumer complaints
• Complaining on social sites can elicit a quick response,
• It gives consumers more control over their message
Thomson South-Western, The World of Customer Service, 2nd edition