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Customers Take to Twitter to Get Companies' Attention

twitter-how-to-101110-02 Credit: Dreamstime.com

Businesses that use Twitter to engage their customers better be listening when a complaint pops up on their Twitter feed.

A recent survey from Maritz Research and its social intelligence arm, evolve24, revealed that frequent Twitter users who rely on the social media tool to complain about their customer experience overwhelmingly want companies to pay attention — and to address their comments.

The study showed only one-third of those complaining had actually received a follow-up from the company after tweeting their issues, though 86 percent of them said they would have liked to have had a response.

The simple act of responding to the tweet helps soothe customers' feelings, the study showed. Of those customers receiving responses, 83 percent said they liked or loved hearing from the company that they'd originally complained about.

In addition, nearly 75 percent of those customers who received a response were satisfied with the reply they received.

"In today’s business environment, social media is having a profound impact on the level of service customers expect," Anthony Sardella, senior vice president and managing director at evolve24, said in a prepared statement. "Businesses cannot effectively compete without being tuned in to social media to improve the customer experience."

At the same time, businesses shouldn't use contact information from those who contact them via Twitter to sell them on anything else. Sixty-three percent of those customers surveyed said they would wouldn't like it if the company contacted them about anything other than the complaint at hand.

Sardella said that data shows just how critical it is for businesses to get their messaging right.

"The best brand marketing provides responsive customer service, and does not use a customer experience event as an opportunity to sell something," he said.

While the study reinforced the trend of using Twitter as a way to get a company's attention, Sardella said all methods of customer service should be given the same consideration.

"Consumers expect companies to understand their individual wants and needs," Sardella said. "If that's responding to a complaint via Twitter, YouTube or the old-fashioned phone call, businesses need to have the right tools ready to listen, understand and respond."

Conducted this month, the study surveyed nearly 1,300 Twitter users who frequently tweet and had complained via Twitter about a company with whom they do business.


Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.