If Your Customers Twitter, Should You? by:Erwin Steneker
If Twitter is a new place for your customers to reside, should you do 'Twitter Marketing'?
Twitter is a fairly new online social community application, used by over millions of users worldwide (and growing). It's also known as "micro-blogging", sharing what concerns you in 140 characters or less.
With so many people firing away on what makes them happy or sad, your customers maybe tweeting (= posting on Twitter) about you, your company, or brand. Are they saying good things or bad things, are they happy with your products? or confused? or disgruntled?
Getting curious already?
You should be. If your customers are out there talking, and you can listen to them... never miss that opportunity! In fact, you should try to talk to your customers as often as possible, as they can tell you what you do right, and what you do wrong.
Twitter is just an ongoing worldwide conversation, and you have the opportunity to listen in on what they say (if you cannot restrain yourself, then do a search on Twitter right now: search.twitter.com. Don't forget to come back here!).
If they're saying really great things about your product or business, it's great for morale. And if they're saying bad things... well, there's even better things you can do with that:
1. Learn from what customers don't like. Change it. Make happy customers. Get more customers.
2. Make right what went wrong. It's my experience that when you apply a helpful attitude, it often turns a disgruntled customer into a loyal fan.
3. Set the records straight. Sometimes, people don't play very nice. A competitor may spread some bad rumors in an attempt to hurt your brand. Some customer go all out on a minor nuisance, and try to paint you black... if you know they are spreading mis-information, you have the opportunity to share your side of the story.
But it's hard to get to the point in less than 140 characters.
But if your customers are twittering, you should keep an open eye on yet another channel where you can be talked about. Even more a reason why you should make and keep happy customers by providing great customer service!
Twitter should most definitely be on your list of channels to check out on a regular basis.
Using Twitter as a help desk channel is a whole different ballgame. As a matter of fact, it's a challenge to handle lots of different channels your customers can use... if you have a physical store, they can come to see you. Or they can call you. Or Skype you. Or send an e-mail. Or use a form on your web site to start a help desk ticket. Maybe they can even have a live chat. And now Twitter.
How do you keep track of it all? That's a real challenge!
It can actually be too much to handle. Especially if you're just a small operation. Even with just a few channels to handle (phone & Internet) I could notice that either one or the other would be given precedence. Not good. On each end of each channel is a customer, and often you can't determine which one to give priority.
But I can't tell you to focus on just a few channels, and do those very well. Because it would ignore an important truth:
In this day and age, a customer is a multi-channel customer. They expect us to make it easy for them to contact us. And so we should. But Twitter, with its 140 character limitation, doesn't lend itself well to get to the bottom of serious customer service issues.
Simple questions, that can be answered by sending folks to a page on your site: Twitter's great for that. Serious issues that arise? Try to get the customer into an e-mail conversation (managed by a help desk application or not) as soon as possible.
But don't ignore Twitter. People are talking, you know...
And you'd better listen!
About the author
Erwin Steneker is passionate about great customer service, and is sharing his point of view at http://www.customerservicepoint.com - You are invited to follow him on Twitter at http://Twitter.com/CustomerLover.