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  • Writer's pictureDS&P Digital Marketing Agency

How to Manage Consumer Complaint Behavior (CCB)

CCB may be a new term to many organizations that depend heavily on social media to market their products and services, but no doubt, they have experienced it at one time or another.

CCB refers to Consumer Complaint Behavior. It’s when a customer decides to lodge a complaint or grievance about an organization and posts it on Facebook.

But why do people complain on social media platforms? Further, why do they invariably select Facebook?

We might think the answers to both questions would be relatively simple, but that may not be the case. Facebook is “grievance-central” when customers have a complaint about a product or service because it is so widely viewed, not only in North America but around the world. As of 2018, 70 percent of Americans report using the Facebook platform regularly, sometimes multiple times per day.

This means that posting a complaint against an organization on Facebook has the greatest chance of reaching the most people. That can sting if yours is that organization they are complaining about.

But why do they use social media to complain at all? Possibly, the following true story will tell us.

Someone, now recognized as one of the leaders in the new generation of spiritual gurus, says she gets hundreds of emails regularly from people all over the world. While most of them are complementary, often thanking this spiritual guru for helping them solve a problem, some are not so complimentary. In fact, some are downright critical of her.

While they do their best, she and her staff cannot respond to all the emails. However, they did notice that one person kept sending her complaint emails repeatedly. Other than responding once to the complainer for “sharing his feelings,” his emails were mostly ignored…until he posted a serious complaint about this guru on Facebook.

That was when they took notice. That was when this spiritual guru and her staff decided they had to respond, both on Facebook and by email. But what triggered this post on Facebook?

According to a study published in late 2018, people complain on Facebook when contact with an organization directly results in “undesirable outcomes.” Often this means they get a “canned” response or no response at all.

These undesirable outcomes, according to the researchers, “leads to frustration and uncertainty about the situation, which led to the respondents’ need to voice their complaint by sharing their unfavorable experiences on Facebook.”

By interviewing some of these people that use Facebook as a place to voice their complaints, the researchers also uncovered the following:

  • They had vent-up frustrations that did not dissipate over time.

  • They felt a need to be “seen, understood, and respected.”

  • In some cases, they were “seeking revenge by damaging [or attempting to damage] the organization’s reputation.

  • In their own way, they were “offering the organization a chance to improve.”

While the goals of the research were to understand CCB, what caused it, and why Facebook is complaint-central, the researchers also offered suggestions that our spiritual guru, as well as any organization in this situation, can take to address it. The most crucial are the following:

  1. Have frontline employees solve these problems before the customer turns to social media to vent their frustration. We regularly suggest to our clients to add a “chatbot” to their websites. A chatbot does many things: it allows prospects to reach you, but it also allows customers to voice a concern. If they can reach a person that they genuinely believe can rectify the situation – or at least attempt to do so - much of the frustration loses steam.

  2. Once the complaints are voiced on Facebook, it is imperative to apologize to the customer and let them know they will be contacted to help resolve the issue. “Acknowledge the problem, never ignore the situation,” said the researchers. At one time, many companies had policies like this in place, but over time they drifted away. What we need to know in situations like this is almost all organizations are going to have unhappy customers at one time or another, and they may post their complaints on social media. That we cannot control. But what we can control is how we respond to them. Doing so effectively means other Facebook visitors may not remember the complaint as much as they remember how well and effectively it was addressed.

  3. However, we still may want the complaining customer to take one more step and that is do a follow-up post, indicating that the problem was rectified and that all is forgiven. This should be discussed with the customer. In our experience, the customer will not only take the next step, often they are very glad to do so.

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