Internet users in the UK quite like giving their views on brands via various different platforms. Companies should take these opinions – a third of which are negative – into account rather than ignoring them, as quite a few firms do.

More and more consumers are posting complaints about brands on the Internet, either on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter or in Internet forums. According to a survey carried out by the U.K. web hosting company Fasthosts among 1,300 Internet users, a third of them have had occasion to express their grievances about a company or a product online. Even though the user’s gender seems not to play a role, age certainly does. The younger the person, the more likely s/he is to post a negative comment.

Young people more inclined to be critical

Some 52% of those under 24 have posted at least one complaint about a brand on the Internet. This figure falls to 39% for the 25-34 year-olds, 38% for those aged 45-54 and only 28% for those who are 55 and over. Geography also has an impact, with many more people in the South-East and North-East of England (38% and 37% respectively) than in the other UK regions, broadcasting their discontent. At the same time, however, it seems that very few small companies have realised the benefits that engaging in dialogue with this group of consumers could bring, especially on the social networks.

Internet users ready to forgive if they feel someone’s listening

Just 12% of the four hundred small businesses surveyed stated that they had responded to customers making an online complaint. This is a mistake, reckons Stephen Holford, Marketing Director at Fasthosts. The instinct to remain silent is understandable but “actively engaging with negative comments can allow companies to assess the customer experience that they offer, while also picking up ideas for how to boost their online reputation...,” underlines Holford.  In fact, 84% of those surveyed say they would give a company a second chance if it responded to their complaint and actively discussed the issue with them. Internet users would then feel that the company was taking an interest in them and taking their opinion on board.  And this might be a very good way to improve customer retention.