Twitter’s future and customer service

I am a little behind my reading this week. On the i-media newsletter I found an interesting article from Brendan Nelson about “Where next for Twitter?”

Reason me picking up on this one is that Nelson pointed out a few very interesting things about Twitter.

The idea of brands to embrace Twitter is not new. He uses the example of First Capital Connect to alert travelers of any train problems. My hosting provider uses the same method to alert me when the server is down. I know of a company, or many by now, that embrace social media to engage with their clients. Example is a broadband provider where the Managing Director got a keyword alert on a Sunday morning for his brand name that someone was unhappy with his service. He engaged with the customer and sorted things out for him Monday morning, resulting in the person twittering about the great customer service and engagement with the client! This is just one example of many.

In the old days people recalled products, sent letters and tried to reach people through offline advertising. Nowadays people use 140 characters, instant online SMS, to engage with other people. They recommend services and point other users to positive experience with brands – but also to negative experience with brands. People use “Search”, e.g. Google, Yahoo! and Bing, to FIND recommendations, products and services. And, the more positive news they read about your product the better.

Last week on Twitter, I engaged in a conversation about a mobile phone network. Others tweeted about their bad experience being on hold to their broadband provider, eventually hung up and used a different provider.

What do brands have to do? Engage with your clients via social media. That is the key. Monitor your brand name online and be sure you are found for anything related to your products and services, your brands etc. The bigger the corporation and the more brand names you have, the more important is it to monitor all of them. You can automate that but ideally have someone dedicated to engage with anything that is said about any of your brands…at any one time.

Whilst Google for instance takes a few days to index some pages, Twitter is there instantly. It is real time. If someone opens a “can of coke” and has a bad experience, she might tweet about it whilst waiting for the bus. She turns her “downtime” into “bad reputation for the coke producer”. You want to engage with her and use her next downtime to tweet about the positive response she got from you. Make your client/customers happy! Make them being noticed and feel good. If they do, they will tell their friends about it. And don’t forget, this is REAL TIME. And that makes twitter so powerful. And of course, the more followers you or the person has, the more brand awareness (positive as well as negative) you get! Viral marketing!

Why is Twitter so closely related to search marketing? Firstly, I believe that Twitter is offering instant search. That means people will use Twitter more and more to find most relevant and most up to date information. And, it is reputation management, as people talk about things on Twitter.

Secondly, as a brand, or any brand really, you want to know what your customer says, thinks and would like to see. If someone has an idea of how to improve your chocolate bar, your computer or your software – you want to know. Therefore it becomes more and more important to find those information and turn them into value within your organisation. Dell for instance created a forum for customer support that gained them great ideas which in return relates to millions of pounds in savings for product development.

Taking the two things to mind, you want to be found for what your customers associate you with. If you produce a chocolate bar you don’t want to be found for “chocolate bar” only. If you clients talk about you having “the coolest tasting chocolate bar on the planet”, you want to be found for that keyword and drive that message out through online and digital marketing use. By driving these keywords out there, people will use those keywords and you will be found for them – that is if you optimise for them. Look at Orange’s “I am” campaign.


Now, I can conclude, that customer service in real time is very important and that Twitter is a very valuable source, amongst blogs, forums and other social media sites, e.g. Facebook, Hi5, and Orkut, for you to engage with your clients. Get your communication right and embrace social media and your clients where they are. Embrace their opinion in real time!

Follow me on Twitter, @ballueder