15 Aug How to Complain to Get What You Want
I was recently asked how best to complain via social media in a civilized and concise manner. The question got me thinking. Is social media the best way to complain in the first place?
Companies are still not monitoring social channels as actively as they should. In one Maritz research and evolve24 study of 1,298 Twitter complaints, only 29% of users received a response from a company.
So what is a consumer to do?
Know your desired outcome
Before taking any action, know what you want to happen. Do you want to see some change, do you want compensated or do you just want to be heard? You can’t get what you want if you don’t know what you are asking for.
Key points to remember: Try to be specific, don’t cry wolf or complain just to complain.
Where you should complain
To resolve your complaint, you must choose the best medium. If the company resolves your complaint, stop complaining. Be sure to report positive outcomes using the appropriate medium, as well.
- Complain to the company
Call, email, visit or write the company, first. Companies often provide easy to find support information. Companies (usually) already have a system to respond through traditional mediums. Use these first, if you really want your problem resolved.
- Notify regulation agencies
File your complaint with the appropriate agency, if applicable: FTC, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, state Attorney’s General
Or notify consumer agencies such as the Better Business Bureau
- Complain publicly
If your complaint goes unanswered, voice your concerns in a public forum such as Twitter, Facebook, a blog, etc. Be sure to address the company directly such as using their Twitter handle, posting on their Facebook page or sending them an email with a link to the complaint.
- Get creative
If you still don’t get the results you wanted, get creative. Create a video, alert the media or come up with another way to take your complaint to the masses. At this point, you are trying to reach enough people to publicly embarrass the company. My favorite example of this is when Dave Carroll wrote a song about United Airlines breaking his guitar and then put it on YouTube.
- Evaluate legal alternatives
If you’ve exhausted all alternatives, you may have to take legal action.
How you should complain
Just as important as the medium is the message.
- Be informed
Do your homework. Know the details and validity of your complaint. The more informed you are, the easier it will be to complain.
- Be polite
Be kind, patient and understanding. Empathy goes a long way. It may not be the person’s fault who you are talking to, so give take it easy. Even if you speak to the person at fault, let them know that you make mistakes, too. You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar.
- Be direct
Keep it short and simple. State your problem and desired outcome. Stick to the facts and be ready to provide the details you researched earlier, when asked.
- Be persistent
Document everything and follow-up when needed. You may have to change mediums, but stay consistent in your approach.