For companies, there are plenty of reasons to maintain an active Twitter presence. Once you establish yourself on the network and begin to accumulate followers, you can use it for publicity purposes - to give your customers news and information on products, services and everything that's going on with your business. You can also use Twitter to promote contests or deals in real-time.
But Twitter isn't one-sided, and it's not a pulpit. And those companies that make the best use of Twitter are the ones that use it to interact with customers, more specifically, respond to customer complaints.
evolve24 surveyed 1,298 U.S. consumers that were identified as active Twitter users who use the service to address complaints they have with companies and their products/services. Less that one-third (29%) said that they received a response from the company on Twitter regarding their complaint.
49% of those surveyed said that they "expected" the company to read their tweet. And the older the respondent was, the more they expected the company to read the tweet.
Out of those that received a response tweet from the company, a whopping 83% said that they either liked or loved hearing from them. And beyond that, nearly two-thirds said they were at least somewhat satisfied with the company's response.
Of those surveyed that failed to get a response to their complaint tweet, 86% said that they would have liked or loved to hear from the company. 63% said that they would not like it if the company responded to their complaint tweet with something that didn't pertain to the complaint.
It looks like the moral of the story here is that people respond extremely well when a company takes the time to respond to a complaint on Twitter - and not enough companies are utilizing this weapon. When people are upset about the way they have been treated by a company or dissatisfied with a product or service, they are already in a bad mood. When a company fails to respond to a complaint on Twitter it will just exacerbate the situation (especially for those who have the expectation of a response).
And it's amazing how satisfied the respondents were with the companies' responses. 140 characters seem to go a long way.
Of course, it's not feasible for large companies to respond to every complaint directed towards them on Twitter. Take Coca Cola for instance. In the past few days, their Twitter strategy has seen them respond to dozens of positive mentions. Here's one of the only responses to a semi-negative mention in that time frame:
And even then, Coca Cola didn't quite respond to the original query and they have yet to follow up on his followup.
Here are a couple of examples of businesses responding effectively to Twitter complaints -
If you're a smaller business, it would appear that is in your best interest to not only maintain a Twitter presence, but actively respond to customer problems using the platform.
And as your Twitter presence grows, and you get more and more followers, the volume of complaints will inevitably grow. But the chance to make a customer's experience a little better with 140 characters or less will grow as well.