With rumors swirling about a possible acquisition, Twitter's future is uncertain, but the company's role in enabling brands to deliver customer service remains solid. Earlier this month, Twitter released findings from a customer service study, an effort the company expanded from the airline industry alone to the quick-service restaurant and telecom industries as well. The findings revealed that the manner in which customer service is delivered on Twitter plays a significant role in how much consumers spend.
When customers reach out to a brand and receive a Twitter response, they are willing to spend between 3 percent and 20 percent more on an average-priced item from that brand, according to the research. Airlines customers are willing to spend approximately $9 more—that’s closer to the 3 percent range—while quick-service restaurants are willing to spend $3 more, which is closer to the 20 percent range. The study also found that customers that receive a response to their message on Twitter are 30 percent more likely to recommend the brand and 44 percent more likely to share their experience with others.
"The theme of this Twitter study is all about engagement—customer to business; business to customer. Customers value emotional connections and a tweet carries a connotation because it is powered by a person, not a computer, with a sense of urgency and caring," says Chip Bell, customer service expert and author.
Speed also played a role in driving revenue, the findings showed. "While any response is better than none, it pays to reply rapidly," Twitter researcher Wayne Huang wrote in a blog post. When an airline answered a customer's tweet in under six minutes, the customer was willing to pay $20 more for a future ticket. In the telco industry, customers were equally grateful. They were willing to pay $17 more for a phone plan if they received a reply in under four minutes, but only $3.52 more if they had to wait more than 20 minutes.
Notably, the study also demonstrated that negative tweets from customers are not necessarily a nail in the brand’s coffin. Responding to negative tweets can be beneficial to a brand's overall image because it reflects how effectively it can resolve problems. Sixty-nine percent of people that tweeted negative comments about a brand said they eventually felt "more favorable" when the brand replied and addressed the matter.
In the telco space, conversations that started off on a bad foot but ended with a more positive resolution led to a threefold increase in willingness to pay more for a monthly plan. This is no surprise, Bell says. "As customers, we are quick to forgive a hiccup if we sense the service provider truly cares and is sincerely eager to right the wrong," he explains. Natalie Petouhoff, vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research, agrees. "Studies have shown that a customer who has issues with a company but gets them handled in a good way is more loyal than a customer who has never had any issues with the company," she says. The idea is that customers want to know that the company will "be there for them." This creates a bond that is stronger than the bond formed from buying and selling a product with no issues, according to Petouhoff.