Low-cost customer service

In 2008, Gartner identified Twitter as a disruptive technology that would change business in the coming years. According to some estimates, there are around 3 million users on twitter. Both large corporations and small businesses use the low-cost free micro blogging service for various purposes including gathering customer data, responding to customer grievances and even brand promotion. Many companies have official twitter accounts and even encourage employees to use it e.g., more than 400 Zappos employees use Twitter, Dell has 20 official Twitter accounts.

How companies are using Twitter?

Tracking Inventory – Can’t find a product at the store? Just tweet about it

In 2010, Indian FMCG Company Parle Agro used Twitter to track inventory. Customers and retailers could inform the company via Twitter whether there was enough stock of its baked wheat snack brand Hippo in their neighborhood stores. The results were good with the company receiving tweets from 25 cities regarding Hippo’s distribution and boosting sales by approx. 75%. With Hippo’s mass-distribution to five lakh retail outlets, Twitter served the company equaling almost half of Parle Agro’s foods sales team.

Consumer Complaints/Service – Instant action

Many companies monitor tweets by customers and respond immediately, e.g. Kingfisher Airlines Ltd. responded to a customer complaint on twitter on not finding a lounge at the airport within 15 minutes. ICICI Bank refills its ATMs when a customer complains by tweeting about it. JetBlue provides Twitter based customer service, even displaying the employee on duty at any time.

Useful brand-monitoring and corporate identity tool

Zappos looks at twitter as an opportunity to network with customers and improve its brand image. Zappos CEO Tweets many times in a day has many followers and around 400 employees use twitter to nurture a company culture. Samsung’s Twitter account focuses on mobile phones and product news.

Collecting Data, Focus groups

Many companies tweet about their product launches and get instant feedback on various issues. The user segmentation (usually gathered from the bios, profile of the twitter users) helps elicit opinion from the right target audience. Procter & Gamble (P&G) uses feedback on the quality of their products launched on twitter. Starbucks also tweets about new offers and shares details with its twitter followers. Wal-Mart uses Twitter to make a better shopping experience for its customers.