Are Twitter and Facebook the new call centres?

Last Friday night, I was evacuated from the Odeon cinema in the Metrocentre half way through a film. Whilst being stood outside for nearly 20 minutes with no Odeon staff around to ask what was going on, I took to Twitter to voice my complaint. After being let back into the cinema and finding out from a member of staff it had been a fire at The Handmade Burger Company next door, I tweeted again. “So after a long time waiting it turns out it was a fire @handmadeburger“.

On Monday morning, I received a tweet from The Handmade Burger Company (@HandmadeBurger) asking me to email them with further information about my complaint. A few emails later, I was told I would receive drinks vouchers from the company as a way of apologising for my inconvenience.

On the same day, I read an article on the BBC news website asking if “Twitter and Facebook are changing the way we complain?”. This got me to thinking, pre social media would I have complained about the evacuation? Or would I have just got on with it?

We’ve all experienced some form of poor customer service, but would that normally lead us to calling the company’s customer service department to complain? I think not. Social media has given people the opportunity to complain there and then, on the spot, and this can have a huge impact on companies.

One of the first things I did after being evacuated on Friday night was to get my phone out and take to Twitter to voice my opinion. Something I would never have thought about doing a year ago. Social media is no longer for just communicating with friends.

In the BBC news article, it discussed a number of cases where people have taken to Twitter and other social networking sites to complain, with problems being resolved very quickly. It seems like the idea of public humiliation is what causes companies to take problems a lot more seriously online. It poses the question though, why do we need to publicly humiliate a company for them to take us seriously and react?

If companies didn’t realise before, surely they realise now how important social media is for their relationships with customers. I’ve still had no reply from the Odeon Metrocentre, however Handmade Burger Company handled my complaint very well and I look forward to receiving my vouchers and dining with them in the future!

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