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Consumers Turning To Twitter To Air Beefs

Dorothy Tucker Dorothy Tucker
Dorothy Tucker has served as a reporter for CBS 2 Chicago since 1984....
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(CBS) -- Forget the phone and stash away the stamps. The newest way to complain is as close as your computer or smartphone.

CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker shows you a new way more customers are getting their complaints seen and resolved.

Calling to complain can be exhausting. So Alicia Peiffer won’t do it.

“I don’t have time to be calling on the phone and sitting for an hour. I just tweet,” she says.

Like this one to Comcast: “Internet is down for the third time.”

She also tweeted State Farm about a claim dispute. They tweeted back.

“They ended up being like, ‘What’s the problem? Send me the information,’” Peiffer says.

Jennifer Evers tweeted Sears from inside the store.

“Within an hour they sent me a response back that said, ‘We’re so sorry to hear that you had a problem in our store,’” she says.

Twitter may be tops. Facebook not far behind, but consumers are starting to complain everywhere.

Aalap Shah, co-founder of SoMe, a Chicago social media strategy company, scours the internet looking for complaints on behalf of his clients.

Companies like Garrett Popcorn feel the pressure to respond to prevent complaints from going viral.

Elly Deutch is Garrett Brands’ social media manager.

“Social media opens up a lot of vulnerability for companies and brands. If we’re not there to help control and guide it, then it’s just the fire hose is open and everybody’s posting whatever they want,” she says.

Last year, Sears engaged in nearly 2 million conversations with customers through eight social media sites.

And, Best Buy responded to 62,000 customer issues on Twitter and another 30,000 on Facebook. Its average response time is 15 minutes.

“We like to respond to them in real time,” says Kevin Brown, the president and CEO of Lettuce Entertain You Restaurants.

At one of his restaurants, Stella Barra Pizzeria, the chef’s twitter and Instagram handles are clearly posted and complaints are constantly monitored.

“They’ll tell us there’s a problem, and we get a chance to correct it and get them back into the restaurant,” Brown says.

To make sure your post gets attention, always put the brand name in a hashtag. Make your message concise, direct and polite.

Shah said never threaten or demean.

Evers added another tip: “Make sure you send them a picture of the issue you’re having. A visual image goes a long way.”

Some companies have staffs that respond to social media issues 24/7, 365 days a year.

Often, companies will do more than solve the problem. The lady who tweeted Sears got a $50 gift card for her trouble.