Consumer’s Speak through Social Media- Businesses Pay Attention

Katherine Bennett - November 19, 2009

There used to be a time that if a consumer had a complaint with a company, they would write a letter or make a phone call. If the issue wasn’t resolved a consumer would probably complain to family and friends and discontinue any business that they had with the company. In rare cases, some consumers went as far as getting a lawyer or asking a TV station to look into their story. This might cause a company to lose a little business, but normally it didn’t cause a major dent in productivity. However, Social Media is changing the way the game is played. This means businesses have to pay attention and respond quickly; otherwise, they could get unwanted publicity.

Consumers are now using Social Media to make their voices heard. Take the Bank of America incident that happened recently. According to an article on, Ann Minch posted a video on YouTube after she claims her credit card interest rate shot up to 30%. She did attempt to work things out with the bank before posting her YouTube video. The bank responded, after getting much unwanted attention, and according to the article, “Jeff Crawford, the bank’s senior vice president of existing customer credit services, called Ann to discuss her concerns.” They reached an agreement. In this situation, it appears that Bank of America’s slow response caused them to get unwanted publicity. If they had acted quickly when the complaint first surfaced,   fewer people would know about Ann Minch and her ordeal with Bank of America.

On the other hand, when businesses act quickly to resolve a consumer’s complaint, the results can be win/win. Recently, one of my colleagues was able to get results from Disney via LinkedIn. My colleague visits Disney frequently with her family. As a frequent/returning guest Disney acknowledges this on future visits by greeting you by last name in restaurants and hotels on property.  For example: Hello Smith family and welcome to breakfast. However, Disney kept calling her family by the wrong name. She had updated her information with Disney before, but apparently Disney didn’t make the change. She didn’t rant and rave, instead she called to get the change made, but to no avail. Then she decided to go to LinkedIn, where she found the profile of a top Disney marketing executive, and sent that person an e-mail explaining the situation. In a few days, she was contacted, apologized to and told that the situation would be rectified. Disney acted quickly to solve the issue and everybody came away happy.

Many consumers are using social media to make their voices heard. Think about it, in a matter of minutes a consumer can e-mail a top executive on LinkedIn, post a video on YouTube and tweet on Twitter for the entire world to see, about an issue they had with your business. Companies need to pay attention when a consumer reaches out to them concerning a matter they want to get resolved. Good customer service and an effective response can save a company from having to spend time and money on damage control later on.

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