Study Finds Retailers Responded To 68% Of Holiday Complaints Sent Via Social Media

By listening and proactively responding to complaints on the social web, retailers have an opportunity to turn disgruntled customers into brand advocates. Retail companies are embracing this notion, as they responded to 68% of complaints received through social media during the 2010-11 holiday season, according to the Retail Consumer Report, commissioned by RightNow and conducted by Harris Interactive.

Consumers responded positively to the feedback they received from retail companies. Following a January 2011 survey of consumers who shopped online during the recent holiday season, the Report found that 34% of consumers deleted their negative comment if they received a response back from the retailer; 33% changed their negative comment into a positive comment; and 18% became loyal customers and bought more from that retailer.

Although social media is certainly quick to bring negative comments and complaints to the surface, it also can reinstate unhappy customers who can them become brand advocates. As many as 50% of survey respondents said that great customer service and customer experience influence their decision to buy from an online retailer.


Retailers are making a commitment to customer engagement in their social media strategies, with more than 48% of retailers indicating that customer engagement is a primary objective, as reported by the Retail TouchPoints Social Media Benchmark survey. This will be vital for retailers moving forward in social media, since 61% of consumers said they currently would be shocked if they received a response from a retailer following a negative comment, RightNow reported.

“When consumers have a bad experience, they will not come back,” said Greg Gianforte, CEO, RightNow, in a press release. “And now more than ever unhappy customers are turning to the social web to share their complaints.”

There is good news, though. “Retailers have an opportunity to wow consumers by listening and effectively responding to their complaints on the social web,” Gianforte added. “Retailers can bring back unhappy customers and turn them into brand advocates.” The RightNow report found that 21% of consumers who had a positive shopping experience with an online retailer recommended the retailer to friends and 13% posted a positive review online about the retailer.

Turning Consumers Into Brand Advocates
It’s not enough to simply pacify unhappy customers. Smart retailers will work to turn customers into brand advocates, who will then bring them more business. The first place to start cultivating brand advocacy is on the retail web site. The report found that 31% of customers purchased more from a retailer after a positive shopping experience, because of the retailers’ great customer service or previous experience with the retailer.

But there is still work to be done. While as many as 38% of survey respondents said they visit a retailer’s web site for information and support while shopping online, 22% have been frustrated with their experience because of the lack of consistent information, according to the Report.

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