Social media makes retailers more accountable

social media
Social media has made retailers more accountable to consumers.

Social media plays a major role in how consumers see brands. In a recent Sprout survey, 46% of consumers admitted to using social media to call out brands and 55% have done so in order to get a resolution or response. In fact, 4 out of 5 respondents think social media has increased accountability for businesses. 

Now that complaints can be broadcasted to millions over social media, consumers are using this knowledge to demand answers, with 81% saying that social media has increased accountability for businesses. 

When asked in what ways social media has increased accountability for brands, 80% of respondents said it helps to uncover companies treating consumers unfairly, 65% said it has the power to amplify issues, 70% said it encourages transparency and 75% said it gives consumers power. 

The medium comes in second, 47%, as a place to address customer service issues, behind in-person, 55%. Email got 42% of the vote and the phone got 35% of the vote as a place to voice frustrations.

However, looking specifically at millennials, social is the most likely channel for voicing concerns, 59%, followed by in-person, 51%. 

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And what impact do social complaints have on the brand? Sixty-five percent of people said that if they see a brand called out on social, they think twice about buying from that brand again. Another 32% of those surveyed said that they will like or share that initial complaint on their own profile and 26% will even join the conversation. In total, 17% of consumers take those call-outs at face value and will never buy from that brand again. Only 1 in 5 people say a call out does not impact their perception at all. 

Can a brand win back a lost customer called out on social? Only 26% of people would reach out via another channel to give the brand a chance to make things right after a poor brand response. But if the brand responds well to the initial call out, almost half of people would go back on social media to highlight how the brand fixed the problem. And after the fix, 37% of people would buy from that brand again. 

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Retail ranks as the second highest industry in need of help when it comes to social customer service, just behind consumer goods at 15%. But in reality, the industry's response rate is the highest of all industries at 75%, 64% higher than the industry average of 11%.