The answer may be “yes” — at least for cable companies and other service providers.
According to the results of a recent survey on customer behavior, more than 1 million people per week view Tweets related to customer service experiences, and the vast majority of these Tweets are unfavorable.
That’s a lot of negative press.
The study, which included a statistical sampling of more than 2,000 Tweets, found that:
- 82 percent of the Tweets contained negative (or somewhat negative) sentiments about customers’ cable appointment experience.
- These Tweets reached more than 780,000 followers – not counting the effect of re-Tweets.
Since Twitter users post an average of 50 million Tweets every day — and the number of online adults on Twitter is increasing — it’s easy to see the potential for a single unhappy customer posting a single message on Twitter to erode your brand, undermine your customer trust, or even impact your bottom line.
I’m reminded of that old Herbal Essences shampoo commercial: “I told two friends, and they told two friends, and so on…” (Just substitute “I told 1,000 followers, and they told 1,000 followers…”)
“It may not be a big surprise that people Tweet when they are unhappy about customer service – but what is astonishing is the expansive network effect of these Tweets,” Yuval Brisker, CEO of TOA Technologies, said. “Based on our study’s findings that most customers’ Tweets about service providers reflect a negative experience, a key goal of every service-based company should be to keep their name off of Twitter. As cable companies begin to focus more on customer service differentiation, they need to not only refine their social media strategy, but also focus on innovative preventative solutions for the problems that cause these Tweets. Software solutions that aim to predictively engage customers before problems arise, and provide real-time solutions in advance, are obtaining the best results.”
While I agree that a good product and good customer service always need to be top priorities, I’m not sure that any company necessarily can –nor should –keep its name off Twitter.
After all, social media is here to stay, and that means consumers are going to talk about brands online. Marketers can’t run away from that, and they can’t prevent it, either.
Here’s what marketers CAN do: They can listen and respond. Marketing teams need to start listening to how their brand is being discussed online, and they must start responding to their customers’ comments –both the negative and the positive. Research shows that companies can actually turn unhappy customers into brand advocates –if they listen and proactively respond to complaints on social media sites.
In short, if customers are broadcasting critical messages about you online, it makes sense to pay attention. Even better, have social media strategies in place to respond to complaints and nurture those critical customer relationships.