Social Customer Service: Responses to Customer Complaints
Drawing on publicly available data from the Facebook page of a Slovenian public transport company called “I’m going by train”, the study examines interactional instances of polylogal interactions (Kerbrat-Orecchioni, 2004) between the company’s anonymous Facebook page administrator and its customers. The interactional analysis presented in this paper focuses on the way the customers post disparaging comments on the company’s Facebook page and rant about (a) particular issue(s) or event(s). To prevent the complaint from becoming a customer service disaster, the administrator uses strategies to block the complaint, preventing customers from seeking redressive action. This is achieved by means of sequential deletion (Jefferson, 1973), by posting generic, scripted responses or by refusing to respond to the complaint altogether. While customers’ complaints do not necessarily trigger remedial actions over the phone either (Orthaber & Márquez-Reiter, 2011), this type of asynchronous technologically mediated interaction, unlike the telephone, allows company’s agents to ignore them. The analysis provides further evidence of how open-comment platforms such as Facebook create ripe conditions for public outrage to erupt on corporate walls (e.g. Champoux et al., 2012; Matzat & Snijders, 2012; Bruxelles & Kerbrat-Orecchioni, 2004).