It’s pretty darn easy to lodge a complaint with a company these days. It might even be a bit biased or in the heat of the moment. A complaint that in the old days, once you sat down and wrote a letter about it you realised that you weren’t that upset about it or what was the point anyway. It wasn’t worth the stamp was something my Aunt used to say about complaints. Not these days, oh no. Hello Facebook. Hello Social Media.

And this is a good thing. Real time feedback on your business and brand. Real time tracking on what’s happening in store, with your customers and on the ground like never before. Forget Undercover Boss, spend a day manning a Facebook page you’ll know everything there is to know about a business. The good, the bad and especially, the ugly.

But is it fair?

I’ve taken to Facebook myself with a complaint. It was on behalf of my sister whose hand was severely burnt at a restaurant where no one on staff was helpful nor forthcoming with the appropriate remedies to the burn. Suggesting she put ice on it, even. The attitude was the main issue. No one seemed concerned for her well-being while the blister grew to half the size of her palm.

I was upset, annoyed and angry at them for treating my baby sister so badly. And I knew, just like a swift kick to the groin for a man, the way to get the attention of a business is loudly on a Facebook page. Responses are public and often speedy. Damage control at its best. I knew this. I counted on this. I knew that telling the tale in gory detail would bring about support and concern from my friends on Facebook.

It is a manipulation. Plain and simple.

There are channels to make a complaint of this kind. There are ways to ensure that a business responds to your concerns. But I bypassed them for a social media lynching. Once I calmed down {and after receiving a response} I reconsidered this method. I removed the post. Not because the issue was rectified but because I felt that I had handled it badly. We had not contacted the business through any other method {my sister had spoken with the manager in store and had been under-whelmed with the response} and went for the jugular.

The social media jugular.

I’ve been on the other end of a social media sledging and it’s not a nice thing. No matter what you say, people assume the worst. You just don’t forget something once you read it. Not entirely. Mud sticks and I know it. That’s how I knew that I would get a response. To a certain degree business must live in fear of social media where a customer can say what they please and call it feedback. In real-time. Perhaps it will drive us all to the next level of performance and customer service. Or over the edge. Who knows.

So I ask, how far is too far; What’s fair and what’s foul in social media?


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