5 On Your Side

Strategies for getting businesses to respond to your online complaint

Posted November 16, 2021 3:02 p.m. EST
Updated November 16, 2021 5:32 p.m. EST

— More and more often, customers are taking their frustrations with a business online by writing a nasty review or tagging them in a post.

It may feel tempting to publicly blast a company on social media – but research shows it may not be the best way to achieve the results you want.

Use direct messages, rather than public shaming

“Whatever platform you’re using, try a direct message instead," says Octavio Blanco, an employee with Consumer Reports. "Companies know you can put them on blast where everybody can see your message, so they may appreciate it when you don’t.”

That appreciation of courtesy and kindness could even end with you getting a faster, more helpful response.

Many customer service employees are used to getting threatening, angry messages. Blanco cautions, "Remember, there's a person on the other side of your message."

A courteous complaint could be more likely to get that customer service agent on your side – and go farther to help resolve your issue.

Scammers can target you if you make a public complaint

Another plus of keeping first efforts private: Consumer Reports says it may also help you avoid scams.

That’s especially important when dealing with a bank or financial services company.

Scammers take advantage anywhere they can – and sharing a public struggle could make them target you by pretending to contact you as a company representative.

Make sure you reach out privately to the official company account – most of which have a check mark in a blue circle to prove they are authentic.

Manage your expectations

Consumer Reports also encourages people to manage their expectations when it comes to getting a quick response.

Especially considering the staffing shortages impacting so many companies on so many levels, responses sometimes take longer.

However, it's because of those staffing shortages and economic struggles that now, more than ever, a little kindness goes a long way.

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