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Online consumers tend to be far more positive about brands that respond to their comments or complaints via public forums or social media channels rather than direct feedback methods such as email or phone calls, according to a report by Maritz Research.

Among surveyed customers who had received a response from a brand about their public comment, 85% had a favorable impression toward receiving the response via a public or social channel. Among those 85%, more than one-quarter (27%) said they were "delighted" to receive a response to their public comment. 

Only 2% of online consumers said they were "unhappy" with the public response they received to their publicly-voiced comments.

However, that sentiment was not shared for direct responses such as a phone calls, emails, and letters. Among the consumers who made direct inquiries or complaints, only 6% said they were delighted to receive a similar response from a brand.

Below, additional findings from the Consumer Preference Study by Maritz Research.

Preferences for public feedback are stronger among younger audiences.

Older consumers were more likely than their younger counterparts to prefer direct inquiries or complaint methods, whereas younger consumers were more likely prefer public methods: 33% of those age 18-24 said they prefer public feedback methods, with 28% particularly favoring Facebook.

The report also explored consumer awareness and favorability toward various uses of online information by companies. 

Though most consumers are unaware of the different ways in which data is used, when they do understand those uses, most consumers are favorable toward a brand using data to conduct the following activities:

  • Help an unsatisfied customer: 84% (are favorable)
  • Gain insights into what people think about a company's products: 74%
  • Understand a competitor's products: 70%
  • Improve a brand's online presence: 70%
  • Learn what an individual thinks about a company’s products: 68%
  • Understand what an individual thinks about a competitor’s products: 60% 

About the data: Finding for the Consumer Preferences Study are based on a survey of 1,400 online consumers, conducted by Maritz Research, April 18-22, 2012.

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