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Seen At 11: Social Media Gives Customers A Public Way To Voice Their Complaints

(credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

(credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There was a time when customers with product complaints would write letters to a company to resolve their issues. But times have changed. Now, the most common approach for dissatisfied customers is to complain online.

E-mails, web-forms and social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter have put businesses on high alert. Critiques, both good and bad, are only a few keystrokes or clicks away.

Jen Kane advises companies on how to handle online complaints. She explained to CBS 2’s Chris Wragge why people choose to complain online.

“People choose to complain publicly because they want somebody to pay attention,” she said.

Heidi Bobier is in charge of social media for SuperValu’s grocery chains. She has done worked on the Facebook pages of more than a dozen brands.

Facebook has become a sounding board for its more than 900 million users, and Bobier has advice for them on how to get their complaints noticed.

“You want to make sure you’re not saying anything inappropriate. Offer constructive feedback,” she said.

Bobier said placement is key. If a customer wants their complaint to be heard, then they should post it on the company’s Facebook wall. Posting on a company’s wall guarantees that the powers that be will see it, and it could lead to an apology or a refund.

If you want to vent about a company in your own status bar the best strategy is to tag the status with the company’s name. Tagging the message will make sure that the company actually sees it.

On Facebook, tagging involves typing an “@” followed by the company’s name, and on Twitter you can type the company’s name into your tweet and they will be notified.

“If they don’t tag us and it is a private Facebook page, we might never know,” Bobier said.

New Yorkers told CBS 2 that they have seen results from posting complaints on a company’s Facebook wall.

“I’ve actually seen it. My friends have gotten responses like ‘here’s a free coupon.’ ‘Come back and give it another shot,'” Deanna Narushev said.

Experts say the best way to complain is to be direct and spell out exactly how you would like to see the complaint be rectified.

For other websites where you can launch a customer complaint, check out the following links:

Consumerist

Yelp

Have you ever launched a customer complaint? Let us know how it worked out…