Twitter is usurping e-mail as the preferred vehicle to file consumer complaints about services that do not provide the value prescribed or products that do not function properly.
When passenger Cassidy Quinn was stuck aboard a JetBlue Airways flight while the plane was being fixed, she took her complaints to Twitter: “Dear JetBlue, next time can you fix the plane BEFORE we all get on it? Fingers crossed I don’t miss my connecting flight…” JetBlue responded: “Sorry to hear about your delay. We’ll have you on your way soon.” Happy ending: Quinn later tweeted, “Thanks for the response! Luckily I made it to my connecting flight.”
The positive and negative effects of social media can be debated all day long, but for investors, the internet platforms that encourage connections through words, videos and photographs can serve a purpose. From a consumer standpoint, that means righting wrongs. Twitter is usurping e-mail as the preferred vehicle to file consumer complaints about services that do not provide the value prescribed or products that do not function properly.
While Facebook and LinkedIn are considered the best places for posting articles on financial topics, and YouTube is where investors look most for videos on financial topics, Twitter is perhaps the easiest social media platform to conduct a conversation that will not be private.
And often that conversation starts with a complaint.
“Investors are accustomed to using social media as a communication vehicle, and Twitter has become a popular site to use for product and service complaints,’’ said Spectrem president George H. Walper Jr. “Dissatisfied investors with a social media mindset can certainly use Twitter to complain about products or services, and advisors need to prepare for such occurrences with a constant monitoring of Twitter, as well as other social media sites.”
According to Spectrem’s wealth segmentation series study Using Social Media and Mobile Technology in Financial Decisions, the success rate for receiving some sort of satisfaction from a Twitter complaint is staggering. Although only 11 percent of investors with a net worth between $5 million and $25 million have Twitter accounts, that percentage has more than doubled since 2010 when only 5 percent of the same investors used Twitter.
Among wealthy Millennial and Gen X investors, 41 percent have Twitter accounts.
While only a small percentage of affluent investors have complained on Twitter about their financial services provider, their return on complaint has been overwhelming. Among the wealthiest investors, 7 percent have complained via Twitter to their financial services provider and 100 percent of those got responses.
The practice of complaining on Twitter is clearly a preferred tactic of younger investors. Forty percent of wealthy Millennial investors have complained to their advisor and received a response. Among Millionaires with a net worth between $1 million and $5 million, only 3 percent have tweeted a complaint but that includes 22 percent of Millennial Millionaires, and 8 percent of Gen X Millionaires.
Whether their complaint was addressed to their satisfaction is unknown, but the conversation took place…and the whole world was reading. That alone is impetus for the offending company to take immediate action to remedy the situation.
Top Takeaways for Investors
· Just because you can lodge a complaint doesn’t mean you always should. Be judicious in your gripes. You don’t want to be on a company’s radar as one who consistently files frivolous complaints.
· Keep your complaints factual and not personal.
· Make sure you have the company’s specific Twitter handle for customer service and support.
· While one may experience closure by blowing off steam against a company whose product or service has not fulfilled expectations, it is better to tweet a complaint about an issue that can actually be resolved. Those are the complaints that are most likely to get a constructive response.
· Don’t stop with the company. If you do not get a satisfactory response, share your issue with other outlets (the media, for example) that will get the company’s attention.
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.