Matthijs Meire, IÉSEG School of Management and Steven Hoornaert, IÉSEG School of Management
An undelivered package, a blocked bank account, a disconnection from the Internet service… The increased digitization of services is accompanied by an increase in customer complaints. For example, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) saw a 37% increase in the number of complaints in 2020 compared to 2019, then 14% the following year. Currently, Internet outages are still on the rise in large cities such as Paris or Grenoble.
Social media like Twitter or Instagram make it easier than ever to share our opinions, our meetings, but also our complaints with companies. As these become public, organizations become extremely careful when addressing issues to avoid losing customers and diverting other consumers to competing brands. Whether it’s posting negative reviews or incendiary messages going viral, companies therefore have a vested interest in responding to these messages to avoid any further negative impact on their brands.
Many companies are therefore working to capture and respond to more complaints online. For this, customer relationship services rely in particular on monitoring tools that capture tweets or even artificial intelligence solutions that suggest replies and / or send automatic messages.
However, our recent study published in The SAGE Manual of Social Media Marketing shows that over 75% of negative tweets sent to these companies go unanswered, an increase of more than 50% from 2015. For this study, we collected nearly 20,000 Twitter complaints addressed to three major US telecom operators in a single month. Naturally, then, the question arises of what consumers themselves can do to get the attention and response of companies.
“Hey Paul, can you pass me the milk? “
In our research, we investigated which characteristics of the message make the company more likely to respond. In the next section, we’ll look at five tips that help maximize your chances of getting a response on Twitter:
1. Use @
How we address someone has an impact on our ability to get their attention. For example, if you say “will you hand me the milk?” instead of “Hey Paul, can you pass me the milk?” », It is clear that the second message is addressed to the person in a more direct way. In this example, Paul is more likely to respond to the second message than to the first.
We can apply this same concept to social media. The more the recipient is addressed directly, the better the chances of getting a response. A mention of the account (@) will therefore have more weight than a hashtag (#) which will itself be more effective than a simple mention in the text.
However, avoid overdoing it, as adding too many elements reduces the likelihood of getting a response. In fact, the company may consider that you are targeting several profiles.
2. Send a negative tone message
Businesses want to avoid being associated with negative tweets. In fact, previous research has shown that these messages are likely to negatively impact their performance. Additionally, online customer interactions can cause a “firestorm” when other users join the complainant in their review.
Businesses can then choose to focus their responses on these negative tweets. Our analysis also confirms this trend as we show that negative messages are 66% more likely to be answered than 17% of a positive message.
3. Stay authentic
Authenticity and sincerity play an important role on social media. We find that very long and formal sentences are considered less authentic and therefore less likely to receive a firm response. So you need to make sure your message is spontaneous and short to grab the attention of the company.
4. Ask a question
The first tip, “Hey Paul, can you pass me the milk?” brings us to the fourth tip: a good way to get an answer is to ask a specific question. For example, “Can you help me with my downtime?” This actually encourages the company to respond to you. This method also appears more polite and therefore increases the chances of receiving a response from the company.
5. Don’t get carried away!
Frustrated or annoyed consumers often use words that convey their anger, even swear words, or capitalize words to dramatize their emotions. While these tweets tend to get more likes, comments, and shares, they are less likely to get a response from the company. To be avoided, therefore.
Same trends in banking and delivery
Our research was originally conducted in the telecommunications sector, but we were able to replicate the findings in other sectors such as package delivery and retail banking. While response rates are a bit higher in these industries, it’s still vital to make your tweet visible using the five tips mentioned above.
Taking our five suggestions together, posts with direct communication, in negative form, showing authenticity, in the form of a question, and with limited enthusiasm seem to be more likely to be answered. So the next time you have a problem with your internet service, type “@myISP, my internet connection isn’t working. Can you send a technician to fix it?” rather than “I HATE MY ISP, still no service. Clearly they don’t care about their customers.
Of these five suggestions, note that the first, a message addressed to a clearly designated interlocutor, is the most crucial factor, even if companies have the technical means to identify all messages that mention them. In our sample, these get a response in 44% of cases (and also in 52% of cases for the parcel delivery industry), while the response rate to messages where the recipient is not clearly identified does not exceed 6% .
Our research can therefore help customers increase their chances of receiving a response to their complaints, but it also has benefits for businesses. In fact, it is easier for the company to follow messages that are addressed directly to them. Messages without hostility also remain less reposted, which reduces the risk of reviews going viral.
Matthijs Meire, Assistant Professor of Marketing Analytics, IESEG School of Management (LEM-CNRS 9221), IÉSEG School of Management and Steven Hoornaert, Professor of Digital Marketing, IÉSEG School of Management
This article was republished by The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.