I read an article recently about my local railway company and how they are in line to receive an award for their social media strategy. The company use social media to communicate to customers; for example, they have someone monitoring comments on Twitter and posting responses.
What happens though when things go wrong?
Earlier this week their services almost came to a halt on the hottest evening of the year; right in the middle of the rush hour.
My theory is that customers are more likely to tweet when things go wrong than when things go to plan.
It would be interesting to check the impact of the rail company’s policy on the level of Twitter activity generated by their customers. For example, does the fact that customers know tweets are monitored increase the propensity to send them? Also, given that tweets are responded to, does it mean that customers send further tweets in reply and three and four go round when one would have done?
Whatever the answers, it was clear there was a sharp increase in Twitter activity on the evening; discussing delays, hot trains and quality of service.
Those tweeting have thousands of followers between them; many of who could have seen the tweets and made an instant judgment on the content.
The purpose of monitoring complaints is, of course, to turn disappointed customers into ‘raving fans.’ I’m not sure you can do this using 140-characters.
Perhaps the award should go to a company who successfully minimizes the number of tweets when things go wrong.