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Paying @ttention: As customers air gripes online, companies try to maintain e-harmony
By Caitlin Coakley It used to be that when a customer was upset with the way they had been treated by a business, they called the customer service line and lodged a formal complaint or just griped about it to friends. Now, with the prevalence of social media networks such as Twitter and Facebook, angry customers have a much wider audience to whom they can air their grievances. But businesses are also better able to keep up with those complaints. “I think that it’s radically changing the idea of customer service, especially for business-to-consumer companies,” said Brandon Uttley, a social media strategist for Charlotte marketing firm Wray Ward. “Customers have the ability to post complaints to hundreds of sites, if they want, so businesses have to be aware of what’s out there.” Unlike the old days when a business might only know a customer was disgruntled after getting a formal complaint, social media sites are easily searchable. Tools like Google Alerts, Twilert and BackType can bring complaints to a business’s attention. Social media experts say that some businesses are bringing in social media managers to look for complaints, while others are having their customer service staff keep an eye out.