Today, I’d like to share a personal anecdote which really drove home the importance of Twitter as a marketing and customer relations tool. This time, rather than writing from the perspective of an online marketer, I have a story about how valuable the platform is if you’re a dissatisfied customer. Don’t worry – it’s also relevant to your business’s social media campaign, and I’ll soon explain why.
Customer Service 101 – Don’t Ignore People
To cut a long story short, I qualified for a rebate from my Internet provider which never came. I began calling regularly. Each month for 3 months when I received my bill, I called and asked why the rebate had not been applied. Every time, the customer service agent on the other end apologised and promised that it would apply to my next bill. It became evident that phone calls were not working, so I then used the online complaints system. After two weeks, I had no reply to my complaint – not even an acknowledgement that it had been received. A quick check of the Ofcom site said that I should write a letter before complaining to the ombudsman, but I had a better idea. I wondered whether tweeting the Virgin Media team would garner results.
Lo and behold, in just a few hours I had a response! I gave them the information they requested and the next day, they actually called me. The issue has now been resolved.
Why Twitter Worked For Me, and How It Can Work For You
The whole point of Twitter is that anybody can communicate with anybody else, on an equal footing, and in public. In my case, this was a negative for Virgin Media – anybody viewing their profile would see my indignant message and could leave with a negative impression of the company. However, clever social media management can turn PR disasters into real victories.
I’m very fond of an example provided by O2 during the summer of 2012. Due to a widespread crash in phone coverage, O2’s social media team were fielding hundreds of tweets from customers. These messages were varied – some upset and disappointed, some angry, and some plain abusive. The O2 team enjoyed a massive popularity boost by turning the situation to their advantage. Rather than offering a stilted apology and ignoring their detractors, the team took time to reply, sometimes in a very humorous manner. Their replies were so well-liked that they were retweeted on a massive scale. Public opinion had swung and was now on their side. Wired has a good summary, including examples, here.
My point is that whether you’re a consumer or a business, Twitter can provide a helping hand. Communication goes both ways. With intelligent usage, it is possible to use the platform to gain more traffic and, importantly, more loyalty from customers.