SmartMoney Blogs

Pay Dirt
A daily look at what we buy, how we spend, and the companies that do right - and wrong - by their customers.

Complaining on Twitter May Cost You


Venting to a company’s Facebook or Twitter account may be costly. Customers satisfied with customer service via social media tend to spend more than those who complain by other means, a new study finds.

Complaints addressed on social media result in 21% more sales with that company than those by traditional methods, reports American Express. In comparison, consumers satisfied with phone or email customer service spend just 11% more. Experts say it’s normal for consumers to feel loyal after getting good customer service. “It’s not about being perfect, it’s about the response,” says Deborah Mitchell, a clinical associate professor of marketing at Ohio State University. “People like to feel like the company was proactive in responding, and bent over backward to fix it.”

That good feeling is easier to achieve on social media, says Jeff Green, an independent retail analyst. Even if it takes the company longer to respond than you might wait on hold, there’s the perception that you’ve wasted less time, he says. Social media response teams often have more power than call-center reps to solve a problem, and replies often seem more personal. “It has all the elements of self-service, including speed and transparency,” says Robert Wollan, the global managing partner of consulting firm Accenture’s customer relationship management practice.

That Twitter and Facebook complaints lead customers to open their wallet may also just be a sign that customer service is more effective on social media, experts say. “People are spending more because they’re happy,” says Mitchell. “It’s not as pernicious as more subtle marketing tactics that play on our psyche.”


We welcome thoughtful comments from readers. Please comply with our guidelines. Our blogs do not require the use of your real name.

Comments (5 of 8)

View all Comments »
    • For Stu and Unrepentant Cowboy — I will never stop making music now. Music is sonemhitg I have already put aside for 30 years or so and I can deny it no longer. I will write no more books and give no more lectures. Everything I want to say from here on out I will say through music or not at all. My work is done, that day is done. Through music I can offer a bit of comfort, love and acknowledgment that the forgotten and ignored need to hear. Through music and the New White Trash I can give strength from the unseen that manifests in the seen. I have earned the right to spend the last chapter of my life with the one thing that kept me going. The rest of you now must pick up the mantle.To Cowboy: Sorry but if I mix one penny of the Legal Defense Fund for personal use I could go to jail. That’s neither legal nor ethical.I’ll be fine.Thank you all. Now get out there and start teaching others. Point them to CoLlapse. They will listen. That was my job. It is accomplished. And I see no need to sacrifice more. I have a life I want again thanks to Doug Lewis and Andy Kravitz. (I sure wish the Phillies had won. I’m tired of watching the best teams that money can buy instead of hearts that can’t be bought.)MCR

    • This is the worst written article I have read in years. What has the headline to do with the story. Who spends more because they have a complaint–makes no sense at all.

    • I immediately file a complaint with the BBB. Online companies do not like having a negative complaint on their BBB record. A company does not have to be a member of BBB to complain. BBB keeps complaints on file for any company, irregardless of membership.

    • This article features what is perhaps the worst-written lede in the history of journalism.

      “Venting to a company’s Facebook or Twitter account may be costly.”

      Venting is done by the customer, not the company. Therefore, the lede claims that customers who complain are costing themselves…which is not what the study at all says.

    • This article clarifies the difference between a customer complaint being resolved. Resolved over the phone, after waiting for 45 talking to a Rep, or resolved over social media where the customer doesn’t need to be present. The customer being sought out in a channel they are already present in, with minimal time sacrifice to them, results in greater satisfaction for the customer. This would increase customer advocacy/loyalty. Of course, this is dependent on the resolution of the complaint. The right approach and tools would enable the company to resolve the issues rather than just respond to them.

About Pay Dirt

  • Pay Dirt examines the millions of consumer decisions Americans make every day: What to buy, how much to pay, whether to rave or complain. Lead written by Quentin Fottrell, the blog examines these interactions, providing readers with news, insight and tips on shopping, spending, customer service, and companies that do right – and wrong – by their customers. Send items, questions and comments to or tweet @SMPayDirt.