This blog first appeared on our sister blog, Freelance Copywriter’s Blog, but we felt it was so useful we wanted to share it with you here too.

Despite the number of blog posts and articles you see about Twitter, I was flabbergasted to read a recent post on The Drum.

Apparently 71% of companies are still ignoring consumer complaints on Twitter.

Social media has opened up communications between consumer and business. Now, someone can complain through Twitter about poor service or product quality and within seconds potentially thousands of people will know about it.

And yet, there appear to be an alarming number of companies who are not monitoring Twitter effectively.

According to the article, in a survey by Maritz Research, only 29% of those who tweeted a company with a complaint received a reply. This shows a worrying trend – namely, businesses are still not ‘getting’ Twitter.

The post goes on to say that…

The American research looked at 1,298 consumers over the age of 18 who frequently tweet and have used the micro-blogging site to complain about a specific product, service, brand or company.

  • 49% of respondents had expected the company to read their tweet
  • 64.9% of older tweeters (aged 55+)  expected a reply
  • 38.4% of younger tweeters (18-24 year olds) expected a reply

Of those who received a response from a company, 34.7% were very satisfied and 39.7% were somewhat satisfied with the response.

While 86.4% said they would love/like it if the company had got back to them regarding their specific complaint, 63.3% said that they wouldn’t like or would hate it if the company contacted them about something other than their complaint.

The power of a tweet

Once upon a time, if a customer was unhappy about something they would pick up the phone and have a rant. But because they would be speaking with someone representing the company, in theory, their complaint wouldn’t go unnoticed.

But today, consumers have the ability to tweet their anger. Not only would this be directed at the company’s twitter name so (you would assume) they would get to hear about it and take action, it would also be seen by all their followers.

Whether companies like it or not, Twitter (and other social media channels) is the new ‘social telephone’.

The above research shows that most people (84%) liked it when companies responded to their tweet.  Just by listening, a company could greatly improve its customer service satisfaction levels.

Monitoring the noise

If a company is going to use social media, it must ensure it has the resources to use it effectively.

A Twitter account must be monitored to offer timely responses to customer queries and complaints. If you quickly make contact and resolve the issue, you can turn a potentially bad situation into a positive. Your customer will see you as a company that cares about its customers and listens to them.

Make sure your company isn’t one of the 71%:

  • Monitor Twitter for any mention of your brand
  • Respond quickly to tweets you receive from customers
  • Never get into a Twitter argument
  • A quick response will turn a bad situation into a positive outcome

Over to you

Does your business use Twitter?

How are you making sure you monitor it?

If you have any tips to share to help other businesses get to grips with the ‘social media telephone’, leave a comment below.