A New Study by Maritz Shows That the Way That a Company Responds to Comments on Social Media Makes a Real Difference to Brand Perception

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In a study of 1,015 UK consumers, Maritz Research found that the way that a company responds to customers who complain or praise on social media can make a real difference to their brand perception. 58% of those who received a response have a higher opinion of the brand and for those aged 25 - 34, this was 71%. People who complain online are twice as likely to want an apology as financial compensation. 85% of those who commented about their experience never heard back from the company.

85% of people who have commented online about their customer experience have never been contacted by the company.

Companies who listen and respond to customers on social media can make a real difference to brand perception, according to a new study by Maritz. http://www.maritzresearch.co.uk

19 April 2012, London. A new study by Maritz Research reveals that the way a company responds to comments made on social media makes a real difference to perceptions of the company. Across all age groups Maritz surveyed, 58% had a higher opinion of brands that responded to their online comments. For those aged 25 – 34, this was 71%.

Maritz carried out an online survey of 1,015 UK-based consumers to find out how they used social media to talk about customer experiences and what they expected from the relevant companies.

Key findings:
85% of people who had commented online had never been contacted by the company.
If a company listens to comments and gets in touch, this can have a significantly positive impact on consumer perception. Of the people who had received a response back from comments made in Social Media, 32% loved it.
Younger consumers are venting more on social media than their older counterparts. 52% of respondents aged 18-24 said the main reason they make comments on customer experience on social media is to vent to family and friends. In comparison, only 20% of 45-54 year olds said this was the main reason.
When using traditional channels to complain, 77% expect the company to read their comments. 51% of people who made a complaint on social media expected a response.
People are twice as likely to want an apology than financial compensation in response to their complaints online.
When asked to recall a bad customer experience, 35% of people said the experience had been in the retail sector. The sector with the lowest recalled number of bad experiences was Automotive at 6%.

Maritz found that the primary reasons for customers to comment about their customer experience – good or bad - using social media were to share credit, vent to family and friends and as a last resort. Interestingly, influencing the person’s network was significantly less of a driver.

The main reason for using social media to praise or complain was to share and give credit for 24.1%. It was a way to vent feelings to family and friends for 23.5%. It was a last resort for 14.4%. It was a way to show customer thinking for 12.5%. It was a way to bring an immediate response for 8% of consumers and a way to influence their network for 6.4%.

The study showed that there is a big variation by age in how consumers use social media to comment on their customer experiences, with the younger consumers more likely to use social media only and the majority of respondents in the older age brackets more likely to contact the company directly when something goes right.

Using traditional channels such as email, telephone, post remain important when consumers want to praise, especially for consumers aged 35 and older. For those who are 18 - 24 years old, 32.5% will use social media only, 33.7% traditional channels only and 33.7% will use a mixture. For those between 25 - 34, 21.4% will use social media only, 42.3% will use traditional channels only and 36.3% will use a mixture. For the 35 - 44 year olds, 9.1% will use social media only, 59.4% will use traditional channels only and 31.6% will use a mixture. For the 45 - 54 year olds, 3% will use social media only, 66.8% will use traditional channels only and 30.2% will use a mixture.

When something goes wrong, the vast majority 77% would contact the company directly, only 3% would complain only via social media instead of contacting the company. When something goes right 63% of respondents would contact the company to let them know, and 10% of them would only share the experience online.

Maritz found that 51% didn’t expect a company to respond to either praise or a complaint posted online. Asking the respondents whether they had been contacted by a company due to comments posted on social media was revealing. 85.2% said that they have never been contacted by a company due to comments posted online and 14.8% said that they had.

Maritz found that the majority of people, across both genders, want an acknowledgement from the company when they complain online. Out of the 623 who answered the question about what kind of response would they want if they complained, 74% said that they wanted an apology. This response was significantly more important than any other. In addition, 39% wanted a free offer and 29% were looking for compensation.

Maritz found that responding can make a significant difference to the consumer’s opinion of the brand, especially for younger consumers. Across everyone surveyed, 58% had a higher opinion of the company than before as a result of them responding. For those aged between 25 – 34, 71% had a higher opinion once being contacted. Responding also paves the way to get in touch about other things and to build a better customer relationship. When asked if they would like it if the company was to contact them about anything else, 51% said that this would be ok.

If the company responded, 47.2% said that it would be ok, 30.3% said that they would love it, 15% said that they were neutral about it and 7.4% said that they wouldn't like it.

Notes to editors:
About the research
Maritz Research carried out an online survey with 1,015 British consumers. A representative sample was used for this study and comprised of age groups between the ages of 18 – 55+, whose use of social media ranged from never using, to being daily users.

About Maritz Research
Since 1973 Maritz Research has given clients the insight to help them deliver the promised brand experience. To do this, they identify, research and consult on brands, customer experience, loyalty and employees across a range of sectors including retail, automotive, transport, financial services, IT, hospitality and pharmaceuticals. Part of the US based group Maritz Inc, in Europe, Maritz Research has over 100 employees based in Great Britain and Germany. http://www.maritzresearch.co.uk

For further information, please contact:
Jocelyn Senior, Keen as Mustard Marketing, +44 207 717 1685/44 7967 098567

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