With numerous social media scandals hitting the news of late, you would assume that companies would take extra care when dealing with complaints from the public. Customer service issues and problems addressed through public social media channels rarely end well, as was the recent case of UK based company Cineworld Cinemas.

An argument on Twitter sprouted between the company and a disgruntled customer and quickly spiraled out of control. In an era of brand awareness and social media promotion, the Cineworld case is the perfect example of what not to do.

Late last month, a dispute arose on Twitter after a customer complained when Cineworld disregarded and subsequently deleted their tweet. According to the customer, this tweet was a complaint about the price of a single ticket. The individual managing the Cineworld Twitter account tried to defend the business, questioning the client about their accusations and an online argument ensued. After avoiding the topic in a series of back and forth tweets, Cineworld finally told the customer in a rude and abrupt way that they could take their prices or leave them, before letting them know that they were done with the argument and were heading home for the day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cineworld happens to have close to 42,000 Twitter followers who were privy to the dispute and began to voice their concern. After being inundated with tweets of shock and disapproval, Cineworld back-pedalled and were forced to apologise, but the damage still remains.

Before engaging in a conflict in an online forum, companies should think about the potential for it to reach the eyes and ears of other customers.

Customer service complaints via social media channels should be addressed by the company privately and professionally. A public social media platform is hardly the place to belittle or argue with an upset customer.

After the argument ended, Cineworld was cast in a negative light by many of those followers who witnessed the debacle. This case is an excellent example of the importance of managing your social media in a professional manner and building positive brand awareness. Companies should consider strong guidelines regarding who can manage their social media accounts and what can or can’t be posted.

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