How to complain on Twitter: Diplomacy or death by hashtag?

So, how are you best to complain to a company on Twitter?  I read an article by Josh Hallet on his blog about people who continuously complain with #fail tags and moan and bemoan their service providers.

Surely there’s a better way to deal with it.

How to complain on Twitter - be diplomatic

This was my response:

True, but on Twitter you can do it in a constructive way. It doesn’t have to be accompanied by #fail tags. Here’s an example of a bad way of doing it:

Hey @acmecorp you suck. I’ve been on hold to your call centre for years. Sort it out will you. #acme #fail

Why is this bad? All of your followers see it. Everyone rolls their eyes and some say ‘Well done’. It accomplishes nothing as it only shows that someone is annoyed, not what the problem is.

Here’s a good way of doing it.

@acmecorp I’m having a problem with your blue widget usb connecton and have tried your call centre. Who should I contact to get help?

How is this different?

  • It directs it at the company, and only your followers that also follow that company see the question. It’s polite and there are no hash tags which means it doesn’t crop up on trending searches.
  • The polite tone means it’s more likely to be answered in a constructive way.
  • The extra detail means that they can direct you to a resource first and then get you more information.

I’ve found the same thing with quite a few companies where I really was getting to the end of my tether. I couldn’t get a proper response from their call centre, their support documentation didn’t make sense and I wrote the first tweet. The trick is to not send the first one.

The key is to delete it (you’re venting your frustration to yourself) then write the second one.

From there you’re done – you’ve done what you can. If they don’t respond to you on Twitter then leave it. Kicking up a fuss in social media channels isn’t the best way to get a business to consumer result.

How do you deal with companies on Twitter who have messed you around?

Diplomacy or death by hashtag?

(Image credit: Creative Commons Wikimedia user Avala)

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2 Responses to “How to complain on Twitter: Diplomacy or death by hashtag?”

  1. Kathryn April 1, 2011 at 7:04 am #

    I agree, Paul! I’ve been trying to get some resolution with a company (Greengeeks. their hosting may be green, but their customer + tech support is the worst i’ve encountered!)… They’ve been ACTIVELY making life difficult for me, and trying to make it as difficult as possible to migrate my account… Their response to asking for help through social media? – To try to hide it! … so I’m at the point of wanting to warn EVERYONE not to do business with them. It’s been a nightmare. In this case, #FAIL is more than justified. I want some kind of #DONT.GO.NEAR.THIS.BIZ tag (movement). I think SM users need to support each other, and create a better way to track recommendations and warnings online – it will force companies to have more integrity and better responses to customers.

  2. paul September 16, 2010 at 10:41 pm #

    I do agree, however because its such an open forum, I do believe that sometimes there is a need to let (or warn) other people of a companies continued #failings.

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