Several years ago I worked in corporate marketing for UPS, a remarkably well-oiled organization. To improve our Preferred Customer Program, we decided to benchmark best-in-class performance of other companies.
Our team members wrote personal letters to several companies about real-life experiences to see how they addressed concerns, compliments and complaints. The results were eye-opening. Some companies went above and beyond to address issues and concerns, while others never even acknowledged our letters.
Customer service, it seems, was more of a priority to some businesses than others. For those that valued customer relationships, the payoff was a loyal customer base, increased referrals, and repeat business.
Fast forward to today. Social media provides a new way to check the barometer of a company’s customer focus.
The Twitter Test
Try it yourself by looking up the Twitter handle of a company you do business with. Tweet them about a recent experience (good or bad). Express a desire for a new feature or function.
Truly customer-focused companies will respond quickly, even if they don’t have an immediate solution or definitive answer. They will acknowledge your request, thank you for your feedback, and possibly suggest moving your conversation to another venue.
The others? Well, don’t hold your breath.
How would your company do on this simple pass/fail test? Do you have the systems in place to respond to customers who engage your company through social media? Do you have an unmonitored social presence?
If you’re not sure how your company would perform, ask a few friends to try the tes, and report back to you on the outcomes. Extend it to Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ for a broader view.
Improve Your Grade
You can improve your score on the Twitter Test by establishing a social monitoring program to ensure someone is listening. This can be as simple as daily monitoring of your accounts or setting up a Google alert to let you know when someone mentions your company online. Or you can try a more sophisticated social listening solution to capture and respond to customer comments.
Either way, be sure a live person is paying attention to your social accounts. If you simply can’t manage that level of attention, your business really should not be on social media. (Ignoring people isn’t very social, after all.)
What’s Your Experience?
I use this test routinely with my vendors and suppliers, with interesting results. Some companies respond almost instantly, others not so much.
In fact, one company responded 10 months after my initial message! Even then, their response was a waste, something like, “We’re not sure what you want.” Not responding at all would have been a better option.
Have you used the Twitter Test to request support or service? If so, please share your experience and suggestions in the comments below.