High Priority!

Tweeting Isn't Just for Birds

By Erik Linask, Group Editorial Director  |  June 01, 2011

One hundred and forty characters. One tweet. Such a small space, yet one that has become powerful beyond its size. What can you accomplish in just a few words?

Just got a new Verizon (News - Alert) iPhone – the monthly plan is a ripoff. It should be illegal. (83 characters)

Called Cablevision about a bad STB – they had a tech out in 3 hours. Awesome service! (85 characters)

Twins had their first baseball game. Caught their first ABs on my BlackBerry. Terrible video quality. Should have gotten the Evo. (129 characters)

Dinner at SUSHISAMBA Miami Beach. Best meal I’ve had in a long time. El Topo roll is amazing! Can’t wait to go to the one in Vegas! (131 characters)

Whether positive or negative, one tweet can say a lot about customers’ experiences with products and services. Social media has transformed how we interact with our friends and families – as well as our colleagues in many cases. For the hundreds of millions of social media users, Twitter (News - Alert), Facebook, YouTube, and other social tools are a way of life, largely because they are able to easily communicate their thoughts to large groups of friends and followers in seconds, from wherever they are, thanks to the availability and ease of use of these services on mobile devices.

Most users don’t necessarily see their social media activities as a feedback mechanism for businesses – they are merely looking to share their experiences with their contacts. But, because of the inherent pack mentality that pervades human decision making, social media has the potential to be the most significant tool for influencing behavior we have experienced.

As such, every business must develop a social media strategy for discovering customer sentiment as it is spread through cyberspace – and for reacting, when appropriate, to develop appropriate action plans and leverage experiences to provide better overall service, especially where they see trends building.

The great thing about social media is it’s a two-way channel. When a business recognizes negative sentiment, it can engage customers directly to begin a resolution process. Likewise, when customers exhibit satisfaction, their experiences can be leveraged to determine more specifically what created their heightened level of satisfaction to deliver that same experience to others.

TMC’s (News - Alert) Brendan Read recently interviewed Vinay Iyer, vice president, CRM Marketing at SAP, who noted that, “140 characters are not always enough to resolve a problem. The response – using the customers’ preferred channel – is only the first step towards the resolution of the problem. The solution might be achieved through various conversations with the customers, via phone, chat and appointments.” (Read the full interview on TMCnet.)

Verizon could quickly contact its customer to ask if she would like to speak to an agent to see if there is a more cost effective plan that would accommodate her needs.

Cablevision could ask for more detail on the service call to help determine which of its crews might be used as training examples.

Sprint (News - Alert) could respond to its subscriber with an offer to upgrade to a new device. Likewise, RIM might be able to suggest alternative BlackBerry devices that are more suitable for the user’s needs (before it loses more of its market share to Apple (News - Alert) and Android).

SUSHISAMBA could offer a coupon to help ensure its Miami guest actually does visit its Las Vegas location. It can also use similar comments to determine which menu items to keep and which to replace.

The key, regardless of the nature of the business, is to develop social CRM strategies that include monitoring, analysis, and customer engagement – and the technology to implement those strategies and integrate them into their traditional CRM systems and activities. 

There are many factors that play into how businesses should introduce social media into their environments, including an understanding of customer behavior, knowing what tools are available for monitoring and analysis, integration into existing workflows, and best practices for building communities of customers and social media marketing.

All of these will be key topics of discussion at ITEXPO West in Austin, Texas, September 13-15, when the thought leaders in social media and social CRM convene to help business leaders understand the social media phenomenon and how they can put the consumer trend of providing instant feedback to work for their businesses. 

Find more information at www.itexpo.com, and make your plans now to turn your customers’ insatiable thirst for sharing experiences into a revenue generating opportunity.

Erik Linask is Group Editorial Director of TMC, which brings news and compelling feature articles, podcasts, and videos to 2,000,000 visitors each month. To see more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi