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One in three UK consumers now complains with a poor online review

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Growing numbers of UK consumers are sharing their bad experiences of companies and products online, through bad reviews and social media, according to a new survey. But the good news for UK retailers is that the vast majority of those who do so would give a company that engages with their online complaints a second chance.

Research from Fasthosts found that a third (33%) of British consumers – and 52% of the under-24s – have published bad reviews online. The study, carried out by OpinionMatters, quizzed 1,300 UK consumers and found it was now commonplace for them to share their disappointments with companies and products on social networking sites such as online forums, Facebook and Twitter.

But, some 84% of those who responded said they would forgive a company and try its services again – as long as it engaged with their negative online review and discussed issues with it.

However, parallel research into 400 small UK businesses, also commissioned by Fasthosts, found that only 12% had ever engaged with an online complaint.

Stephen Holford, marketing director at Fasthosts Internet, said: “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”.

Internet psychologist Graham Jones said: “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.”

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