Research has shown that consumers have increasingly lofty expectations in our digital world, and woe betide any organisation that fails to take this on board.

Gone are the days when customer dissatisfaction meant a polite letter posted off and eventually forgotten, or a reserved whisper with a manager in a corner, only to be made to feel you are the one at fault for complaining.

Slinking sheepishly away feeling powerless is quite simply no longer an option for customers who are equipped with the latest in communications technology…and not afraid to use it.

Research is proving that more and more consumers are now expecting businesses to respond ever-faster to our complaints, and this is down to our increasing social media engagement combined with our reliance on mobile communication.

In research carried out for Altitude it was established that as of 2016, customers are becoming very demanding divas indeed.

They expect a response to a request made online to a company within seconds…literally in extreme cases.

The case study found that almost half (47 percent) of those who post to – or about – a business expect a reply within an hour.

A whopping 84 percent, meanwhile, expect to hear back within a day, proving that we are impatient for results. However, if we live in an ‘ever-on’ world, then we expect the businesses we spend money on to do likewise.

As the survey author states: “If a paying customer is able to contact a supplier anytime, anyplace, in a matter of seconds, why should they not expect the same back?”

So, which social media platform does one choose to get their voice not only heard, but responded to?

Another survey carried out by Lithium Technologies shows that of those who use Twitter, a total of 53 percent of tweeters expect a response within an hour when they reach out to a company’s profile.

If that doesn’t set alarm bells ringing among the few firms who remain non-social media savvy, an incredible 70 percent of tweeters expect a response in under an hour if their contact with the company in question is a complaint.

In the case of Twitter, consequences for firms who fail to meet these expectations can be dire. Aggrieved tweets can spread like wildfire, and can spark a chorus of fellow users standing up with their own tales of turmoil about the organisation in the spotlight, like so many Spartaci.

These include people who had previously been content to keep their negative experiences to themselves.

It could not be clearer – how we complain as a consumer body has changed, so should how those complaints are responded to.

A nine-to-five costly helpline isn’t going to cut it anymore; complaining has become a public process, where your response times are on show for all to see and compare.

Make sure yours are nothing to be ashamed of.

Entries are open for the UK Complaint Handling Awards 2018, with an entry deadline of November 17. For further information on the awards, categories, and entering, visit the homepage here.

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