(Ping! Zine Web Hosting Magazine) – One third of British consumers has posted negative material online relating to a company or product, according to research by Fasthosts Internet Ltd, www.fasthosts.co.uk, a leading UK web hosting provider. The survey of 1300 UK consumers(1) finds that it is now common place for Britons to express their gripes openly online, most commonly on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as online forums. Over half of young adults have published negative online reviews. Encouragingly for firms, the vast majority of consumers are willing to give a company a second chance if it responds well to their online complaints.
Today, increasing numbers of shoppers are voicing their dissatisfaction with firms on the Internet. The snowballing of social media websites and mobile Internet has given new power to the consumer to communicate and collaborate with each other on consumer issues. Fasthosts’ ‘Online Reviews Audit’ finds that 33 per cent of consumers admit to having posted a negative online review of a company, product or service.
Whilst willingness to share frustrations online is equal across both genders, the issue ranges in frequency according to age. Younger Britons are far more likely to publish their grievances. Some 52 per cent of under 24 year olds have turned to the web in this way. 39 per cent aged 25-34, and 38 per cent of adults aged between 45-54 years have done so. 1 in 4 of those older (28 per cent) vented their concerns online. Geographical location also appears to be a driver, with the issue most common in the south east (38 per cent) and far north of England, such as North East (37 per cent).
Perhaps most significant is Britons’ willingness to forgive and forget in the right circumstances. Some 84 per cent of consumers would forgive a company for mistakes and be willing to use it again if the firm engaged with their negative online review and discussed the issues with them. There is clearly a good opportunity for businesses to use the Internet as a cost effective means to identify and win back unhappy customers.
Alarmingly, it appears that few British companies are seeing the benefits of getting to grips with the issue of negative online material. Data from 400 UK small businesses(2), also commissioned by Fasthosts, reveals that few UK companies choose to interact with customers who publish negative material about them. Despite the prevalence of online complaints, only 12 per cent of small firms have ever engaged with an online complaint. The vast majority of small businesses are missing the chance to demonstrate their willingness to learn and assure consumers of their dedication and trustworthiness. By engaging with customers, it shows a business is customer-focused, and enables other viewers of these websites to see a response to a criticism that otherwise would be unanswered.
Stephen Holford, Marketing Director, Fasthosts Internet, comments, “It is understandable that many business owners’ first instinct may be to shy away from their customers’ online complaints. However, addressing negative online material enables a company to learn about their customer experience as well as improve their customer retention and online reputation”.
Graham Jones, Internet Psychologist, advises, “People who want to complain about a company are getting a sense of freedom and power as a result of social networks and feel encouraged to make such complaints. As a result, this is a growing problem for companies and is something they must do as a matter of routine. Interestingly, several studies show that when people have their complaints positively responded to they are more supportive of the business than they were before the complaint was made. Psychological research shows this is linked to the fact that when the complaint is responded to well, people feel as though they are being cared for, which produces positive emotional responses”.
As a leading web hosting provider, and Technology Sponsor of The Great Exhibition 2012, Fasthosts offers a comprehensive range of web services including domain name registrations, servers, online backup solutions, reseller web hosting and feature-rich broadband packages. Fasthosts is well placed to deliver a high quality service – The company recently won ‘Best Web Host’ in the Computer Shopper Magazine Awards 2011, as voted for by readers.
Full details can be found at www.fasthosts.co.uk
(1) 1376 UK adults surveyed by OpinionMatters via electronic feedback form
(2) 426 UK firms with a website surveyed via electronic feedback form