With 800 million users worldwide, Facebook is a great place for social interaction between people. It's also a great way for businesses to talk to their customers - if they get it right. But while smaller firms use the social network to build better relationships with the public, giant companies such as Amazon proved poorest at addressing customer complaints. .
The results were found as part of a study (PDF) from Conversocial, which looked at the top ten online retailers on Facebook, and how they dealt with customer complaints. The worst of the bunch was Amazon, who throughout the week of the study didn't answer a single complaint made by customers on the social network.
The study claims that the great advantage of sites such as Facebook is that no matter how hard companies might attempt to bury the complaints, users will push them to the forefront or link to them directly. This is a huge advantage over traditional letter and phone complaints, as they exist in a completely public and popularly viewed forum.
Conversocial said that that the public nature of complaints could also work in a company's favour, though. If a company jumps on complaints quickly and effectively, it makes them look caring and will result in a positive public image for the business.
"Quick reactions give a competitive advantage, but there is an even greater difference between companies which reply and those who ignore queries. This shouts to your customers that you are not interested in their feedback and simply wish to push out one-way marketing messages."
A recent outage at 1&1 Internet left the company looking bad, after it appeared that leaving comments on its Facebook page was more of a priority than fixing the issue. On top of deleting a large number of negative comments, the company made a point of repeatedly posting messages that pointed out that the vast majority of their customers were not affected:
"Between 9 AM and 11:30 AM EST a software error caused a network misconfiguration. As a consequence, 1&1 Root Servers from our customers were not available on the Internet. The problem affected only customers using a 1&1 dedicated, cloud or virtual server."
"The vast majority of customers with hosting packages (shared / Dual Hosting / MyWebsite / Mail) were not affected."
While the vast majority did not include cloud or dedicated servers, those customers pay the most for their packages. It seems that many large companies have little idea about how to handle themselves in a public setting like Facebook.