Twitter Ye Not: the First 'Don't' of Customer Experience

Who hasn't been on Twitter? A Harvard Business Review post suggests that many of us visited, didn't really know what to do, then left (or at least don't Tweet very often).

But when a minority of people figured it out, found a way to become influential, and created a following.

Companies have done the same. Most jumped on the Twitter bandwagon without quite knowing what they were doing.

Except a company -- especially a major service organisation -- can't really walk away. So now Twitter is littered with these company pages that don't really add any value for their followers and occasionally seriously damage their own reputation.

Some service organisations spam their followers with responses to individual customer service complaints. Who wants to see "@someoneidontknow sorry about your problem..." over and over again on their homepage?

At best it's irritating; at worst, it reminds me that their other support channels don't work. But still other organisations, like Habitat, really get it wrong and outrage the community. The furniture retailer took advantage of trending Twitter topics, including the Iran elections, and essentially spammed users looking for news. Social Media Today posted about this blunder and included some thoughtful lessons learned. It's worth a read.

With these emerged and emerging trends -- like Twitter, like blogging, like customer experience -- it's so important to start with a clear strategy in mind.

That means knowing your brand, knowing your customers, and knowing what your customers want from the brand.

First Direct, often cited as a gold-standard for customer experience, does this well on Twitter. It doesn't try to befriend customers; it isn't overwhelmed by support queries. First Direct provides followers with relevant, interesting information, including market research, press releases, and, recently, tweets offering support to customers affected by the volcano.

So, the first 'don't' of customer experience:

  • Don't tackle everything at once. Don't start making changes to the customer experience before you have a clear vision -- one that's based on a deep understanding of the brand and your customers. Because, otherwise, you're likely to struggle and your 'improvements' could prove pointless.
And a couple do's:
  • Define your brand, your values and how you want your customer to feel. This should filter down through all the channels so think about how your business brand will come across in the call centre, shop or on Twitter.
  • Be clear about what customers want: in order to invest time and resource improving those things that customers genuinely value, you have to know that is. You've got to do a bit of research. For some deeper insight into what customers want from corporate social media sites, start here.
(Photo: Jonathan Gill, CC2.0)