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Marketing insights: Defensive tweets


When a Chicago-area Domino’s was an hour late and delivered the wrong order to a woman named Amy Korin, they had no idea how deeply they’d just stepped in doggy-doo. You see, Korin is something of a social media maven, advising several multinational companies on their digital strategies. Shortly after discovering she had the wrong pizza, Korin aired her frustration on Twitter.

When a Chicago-area Domino’s was an hour late and delivered the wrong order to a woman named Amy Korin, they had no idea how deeply they’d just stepped in doggy-doo. You see, Korin is something of a social media maven, advising several multinational companies on their digital strategies. Shortly after discovering she had the wrong pizza, Korin aired her frustration on Twitter.

With no social media defence strategy, pizzerias are often unaware of the online trash-talking or left scrambling to minimize the damage. This is where the Korin vs. Domino’s story gets interesting.

It seems that Domino’s franchisee Ramon DeLeon is well versed when it comes to effectively using social media to grow his business. DeLeon saw Korin’s frustrated tweet because he was tracking any mentions of his stores on Twitter. He immediately contacted her to say that a fresh pizza exactly as she’d ordered was on its way. Then he wowed her by posting a video apology. At the time, DeLeon was totally unaware that he was dealing with a social media expert. He was simply leveraging new tools to accomplish an old objective: superior customer service.

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The Customer Experience Impact 2010 report commissioned by RightNow Technologies and conducted by Harris Interactive looked at social media’s influence on consumer expectations. The study reports that 82 per cent of consumers in the United States said they’ve ceased doing business with a company after experiencing lackluster customer service. Of the people who’ve taken their business elsewhere, 73 per cent indicated that rude staff was the primary problem, and 55 per cent reported that the company’s failure to resolve their problems in a timely manner was their chief beef. Such customer service missteps can have huge repercussions. Seventy-nine per cent of American consumers said they’d shared their negative customer experiences in public and with their friends.

These days, it seems consumers view social media as a way of lodging a formal complaint and that’s skewing their expectations regarding speedy resolutions. The study found that of the consumers who took to social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter to publicly air a complaint, 58 per cent expected a response from the company. Moreover, 42 per cent expected a response from the company within a day of posting their complaint.

But there seems to be a disconnect between what customers expect and what they get. Only 22 per cent of respondents said they’d actually got a response as a result of complaining on a social media site.

According to the website TechCrunch, those aren’t the only ways social media is changing customer expectations. In 2007, 60 per cent of Americans indicated that when they had a negative customer experience, they wanted to speak to a live agent about it. At the time of the study, 26 per cent wanted to communicate via e-mail, and five per cent preferred chat. At the time, Facebook and Twitter weren’t used by corporations to handle complaints and resolve problems. By 2010, expectations had started to shift. Last year 83 per cent of Americans indicated they wanted to speak to a live agent, while 66 per cent preferred e-mail, 12 per cent preferred chat, and seven per cent selected social networking sites as their channel of choice when seeking to resolve a complaint.

The availability of digital options for communicating has caused consumers to crave human interaction in real time.

Businesses may acknowledge and accept that their customers are talking about them online but if they don’t send a direct message, how do we know they’re saying? While new tools and applications are constantly appearing to help monitor the online chatter, one of the easiest ways to track what’s being said about you is via Twitter Search. To use this tool, simply log onto your Twitter account and look to the top of the page. You’ll see a search bar to the immediate right of the Twitter bluebird. Type the name of your own business or product into the search bar and click on the magnifying glass icon or hit enter to begin the search. All of the recent tweets mentioning your business will come up. You can refine the search to check out those tweets with links and tweets from people near you.

You can even check out the people talking about you. You can click on the “save this search” box in the upper right hand corner and then the search will be saved on your Twitter profile. All you have to do is click on the little upside-down triangle next to the “searches” heading and you’ll see your entire list of saved search terms there.

Try checking once per day to see who’s talking about you. What you’ll likely see there will make you feel pretty good about your business. People may be sharing their love of your pizzas, talking about which toppings they ordered and even which wine they’re pairing with their pie. If customers are offering kudos, you may want to jump in and respond with a “Thanks! You made my day,” tweet. Then, entice them with posts about the fresh pies just out of the oven and special offers for your followers. Yes, there may be some comments from frustrated customers in the mix, but here’s your chance to address their issues head on. If a customer has a complaint, tell them you want to make things right and then proceed to fix the situation. You’ll get a chance to defend yourself publicly and you’ll likely draw a few new followers to your Twitter feed in the process.

A recent report by MarketTools, Inc., a provider of software and services for business feedback management and market research, stated that 94 per cent of companies don’t use social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter to get customer feedback, despite people’s growing engagement with these platforms. The study revealed that companies usually gather customer feedback through: email/online surveys (51 percent), formal phone surveys (28 percent), and informal phone calls (28 percent).

In the end, social media simply takes the blanket off of those conversations customers have always had about the businesses they frequent. These digital tools give us a way to finally participate in the conversation and turn negative perceptions into positive ones. As Ramon DeLeon suggests, “Fight social media fire with social media water.”


Michelle Brisebois is a marketing professional with experience in the food, pharmaceutical, financial services and wine industries. She specializes in retail brand strategies.