A new study from TOA Technologies reveals that more than one million people view tweets related to customer service every week and that more than 80% of those tweets are of a critical or negative nature.
It’s no surprise that people who have a negative customer service experience are more likely to tweet about it than those who have a positive or neutral one, but the sheer number of negative tweets is pretty daunting to anyone who is currently involved in Twitter customer service.
However, it also offers an opportunity. The study suggests that customers who have a negative customer service experience and who tweet about it have a broad impact on brand perception now than ever before. But that means that companies who are willing to engage these customers via Twitter – by asking them what they could do better next time, addressing their complaints, and offering refunds or coupons for a subsequent service – have the chance to turn these vocal customers into positive brand ambassadors.
The study looked at over 2,000 tweets between February and May 2011, focusing on Twitter users’ perception of the cable installation service industry by examining keywords like “cable guy” and “installation appointments”. Of the 2,000 tweets, 82% were negative in sentiment. And those negative tweets reached a whopping 7800,000 additional followers at the first level – not including retweets.
Although this was a small study of a single industry (and one that is, perhaps, more notorious for poor customer service than some), it sheds some light on the problems and opportunities facing brands on Twitter. Twitter offers an unprecedented glimpse into your customer’s direct thoughts about your company, and does tend to amplify the negative. However, if brands harness this direct line of communication and engage their customers on a one-to-one ratio, they will almost certainly see an increase in positive brand sentiment online.