ServiceFriday: Twitter – The Key to Maintaining Positive Relationships with Customers

Service providers have primarily utilized social media to generate positive word-of-mouth. However, what happens when customers spread negative reviews through online platforms, and how can service providers recover from this? In an article published in the Journal of Services Marketing, the authors observe how companies can implement service failure recovery strategies through social media, specifically Twitter.

Social media marketing has boomed in the last several years and has become an essential form of communication between customers and businesses, as well as customers and other fellow customers. “Social networking sites have emerged as an important communication channel used by individual consumers to create content, distribute materials, share ideas, express opinions, and use information and knowledge.” It has become so prevalent that many consumers “rely more on social network sites for interpersonal communications than they do face-to-face interactions.” The ability to market directly to consumers and to provide a space for consumers to spread word-of-mouth has allowed for service providers to experience a number of benefits. Social media word-of-mouth has been shown to “impact early product adoption, buying intention, and company-consumer relationships through brand awareness and brand image evaluations.”

Beyond these obvious uses, companies have started to realize social media platforms can be utilized for service failure recovery as well. However, the research conducted for this type of strategy has been minimal in the past, and as the public nature of online sites makes this risky, many businesses are unsure of how to go about it.

The use of Twitter has allowed companies to track consumer opinions regarding services and products and to immediately respond to these through the site. With this platform, consumers can “share post-purchase quality impressions about market offerings with a vast number of connected consumers at unprecedented speed.” It is therefore a perfect platform for companies to stay on top of any negative feedback and respond immediately with a solution. Many service providers such as AT&T, Gap, and Wendy’s have implemented recovery strategies through the site, and some companies are even creating accounts specifically tailored for responding to complaints. These include @AmazonHelp, @FedExHelp, and @NikeSupport. Jeff Lesser, product marketing manager for Twitter said, “…brands that opt not to engage in customer service on Twitter risk a PR crisis, but brands that choose to excel have the opportunity to transform their relationship with the customer, and their business.”

Immediate response is crucial to service failure recovery, and companies who choose to take advantage of social media platforms, especially Twitter, will maintain better relationships with their customers.

You can read the full article in the Journal of Services Marketing. (A fee may apply.)

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