Journal of Management Information Systems

Volume 34 Number 2 2017 pp. 314-340

Whose and What Social Media Complaints Have Happier Resolutions? Evidence from Twitter

Gunarathne, Priyanga, Rui, Huaxia, and Seidmann, Abraham


Many brands try to manage customer complaints on social media, helping their customers on a real-time basis. Inspired by this popular practice, in this study, we aim to understand whose and what complaints on social media are likely to have happier resolutions. We analyzed the complaint resolution experience of customers of a major U.S. airline, by exploiting a unique data set combining both customer–brand interactions on Twitter and how customers felt at the end of these interactions. We find that complaining customers who are more influential in online social networks are more likely to be satisfied. Customers who have previously complained to the brand on social media, and customers who complain about process-related rather than outcome-related issues are less likely to feel better in the end. To the best of our knowledge, this study is the first to identify the key factors that shape customer feelings toward their brand–customer interactions on social media. Our results provide practical guidance for successfully resolving customers’ complaints through the use of social media—an area that expects exponential growth in the coming decade.

Key words and phrases: airline industry, CLASS methodology, complaint management, customer service, Klout score, online complaints, social influence, social media, Twitter