Social media changes customer expectations

18 February 2016

Proactive customers with more public ways to voice dissatisfaction prompt companies' action

Research at an Equiniti-sponsored financial services conference has found that, in five years’ time, social media will rise dramatically in importance from mainstream methods of complaining, such as telephone and email, with survey respondents believing that the number of complaints via social media will have almost tripled – from 10 to 28 per cent.

Equiniti’s research found that social media is a clearly emerging complaint channel within the industry, currently representing around 10 per cent of complaints, with its importance growing. Given this importance is it perhaps concerning that 42 per cent of respondents believed they would be able to handle consumer complaints more efficiently if the FCA relaxed its rules relating to social media, which could help them more effectively engage with their customers.

Today the most common complaint channels are post, email and telephone, representing 25 per cent, 29 per cent and 46 per cent of customer complaints respectively. Complaints in person represent only 14 per cent of complaints.

However, in five years’ time the number of complaints coming through social media are expected to triple - from 10 to 28 per cent. Telephone and email (with both channels representing 37 per cent of complaints) are expected to remain the biggest complaints channels, but their importance will have decreased relative to social media. The number of complaints by post is expected to fall from 25 per cent to 18 per cent and in person from 14 per cent to 12 per cent.

Conference attendees felt that the broadening of avenues for people to express dissatisfaction, which could include new forms of social media, is expected to have the greatest impact on complaint volumes (44 per cent of respondents), followed by an increased propensity for people to claim (40 per cent) and an increase in regulation (16 per cent).

Adam Green, Chief Risk Officer for Equiniti, said: "Our industry needs to be prepared for an increase in the speed of customer complaints, changes in the way customers complain and for complaints to become more visible through the use of social media.

“The immediacy of social media will continue to change the dynamics of complaint handling. It presents exciting opportunities for companies to publically stand out in the way they engage with their customers and address customer questions and concerns. Companies who are slow to respond to these changes risk losing customers to more ‘in touch’ rivals and potentially weakening their brand.

“Changing attitudes and increased use of technology means the financial services industry needs to continue to rise to the challenge of greater complaints transparency. Demonstrating understanding and empathy with customers, backed up by robust systems, will become a true differentiator for agile companies."


For further information please contact:

Alban Maginness
Tel: +44 07483949434

Alex Child-Villiers / William Barker
Temple Bar Advisory
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7002 1080
Email: /

About Equiniti:
Equiniti is a specialist outsourcer delivering technology-enabled solutions to large enterprises. It processes £90bn in payments every year, handles 88 million documents and pays 20 per cent of pensioners in the UK. We provide sophisticated administration, processing and payments services powered by up-to-the-minute technology. We are acknowledged leaders in many of our markets and keep things running smoothly for some of the UK's best-known brands and public sector organisations.

Equiniti's services, which are delivered by over 3,500 employees across 29 locations, benefit 27 million people in the UK and 180 countries around the world.

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