A new study suggests that while large store chains are using social media sites such as Facebook to reach out to customers, most complaints logged through these websites go unanswered.
The study, entitled “Who’s Ignoring Their Customers? A Survey of the Largest Retailers and Their Use of Social Media,” shows that 65% of Facebook complaints on company pages are ignored. The figures are based on a study conducted during a five-day research period in September of this year, according to an executive of social media consulting firm Conversocial.
Executive of the firm, Josh March, has predicted that most large retailers jumped on the use of Facebook as a marketing tool without considering them as a way to provide better customer service. March has said that some retail groups do not do anything at all with complaints on their Facebook page, while some firms exhibited good service after complaints were filed.
A large amount of big firms, including Wal-Mart and department store giant Macy’s Inc, performed somewhere in the middle. These companies registered some complaints while straying far from perfect service. 41% of complaints were ignored by Wal-Mart and Macy’s ignored 35%.
However, retailers are saying that the survey’s data may be skewed, as some complaints seen as ignored may have been resolved privately with the customer rather than on the company’s public Facebook wall.
A spokesperson from Macy’s, Holly Thomas, said that protecting customers’ privacy was a priority for the firm. She said that customers are typically asked to email the company to keep credit information, customer account information, and employment matters out of the public eye.
However, solving the problem in private means that other customers only see the myriad complaints on Facebook, and do not know that they have been resolved. This could be a bad public relations move for companies, March warns, saying that his corporate clients who are using Facebook best understand that they should keep their problem-solving conversations in public as much as possible.
A spokesperson from Wal-Mart said that if questions on Facebook can be easily answered then they are done online, otherwise the conversation is hastily taken offline to collect a customer’s private data.
According to March, Wal-Mart is not making the best use of its newly-launched 3,500 Facebook pages for individual stores. The company’s 9 million Facebook “fans” need to see that they are promt and unshy about dealing with complaints, say marketing specialists.