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Complaining On Twitter May Get You Better Customer Service

MIAMI (CBSMiami) -- Anyone who's had a customer complaint fall on deaf ears knows how frustrating it can be. But there's a new way to complain that could get you better results and it's as simple as sending a tweet.

When Alicia Peiffer experiences poor customer service, she doesn't send a letter, an email or even call the company.

"I don't have time to be calling on the phone and sitting for an hour and I just tweet," she said.

Like one complaint she tweeted to Comcast Cable that said "Internet is down for the third time."

Another one she tweeted to State Farm Insurance regarding a claim dispute got an immediate tweet back.

"They ended up being like 'what's the problem? Send me the information'," she said.

Jennifer Evers said she tweeted Sears out of frustration while she was in the store shopping.

"Within an hour they sent me a response back that said 'we're so sorry to hear that you have had a problem in our store,'" Evers said.

Tweeting a company with a complaint may be the fastest way to get a company to pay attention.

"Social media opens up a lot of vulnerability for companies and brands," said Elly Deutch, social media manager for Garrett Brands.

Deutch said one too many negative tweets can seriously tarnish a brand's image.

"If we're not there to help control and guide it, then it's just, you know, the fire hose is open and everybody's posting whatever they want," Deutch said.

Aalap Shah gets paid to scour the Internet, looking for complaints on behalf of corporate clients.

He said companies are more responsive to Twitter complaints because they don't want them going viral.

But there are correct and incorrect ways to get a company's attention by Twitter.

First, Shah said always put the brand name in a hashtag. And make your message concise, direct, and polite.

"Threatening, insulting, demeaning are things that will never work," Shah said.

And if you can tweet a picture, "a visual image goes a long way," said Evers.

Experts say companies are also quicker to respond to complaints posted on other social media sites like Facebook.

Last year, Sears engaged in nearly 2 million conversations with customers through eight social media sites.

Best Buy responded to 62-thousand customer issues on Twitter and another 30-thousand on Facebook. Its average response time was 15-minutes.

A recent survey by a social media research firm found nearly 50 percent of social media users said they actually use Twitter, Facebook and other sites to try to resolve customer service issues.


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