Friday, May 13, 2016

Customer Service Matters More than You Think

Wayne Huang

Wayne Huang is a Research Manager at Twitter. He’s also a presenter at the Marketing Analytics & Data Science Conference on June 8-10, 2016 in San Francisco, California.

As a preview to his presentation “Mo’ Problems, Mo’ Money: Customer Service Matters More than You Think,” Wayne shared insights on how social media is transforming the way consumers interact with brands.

Peggy L. Bieniek, ABC: How does Twitter help to shape the future of online social media?
Wayne Huang:  As someone with a background in both engineering and in social science, what I find most interesting about Twitter is how it has completely upended the way we communicate.

We’re used to jumping through hoops to talk to a human being at a company. It’s nearly impossible these days to find the phone number of the company you’re trying to reach. But, what strikes me most about Twitter is that brands actually proactively engage in conversations with customers, and not hide behind a maze of automated phone menus.

One of my most memorable Twitter experiences was when I once tweeted a question to Virgin Atlantic, and they responded to my tweet in less than three seconds. That was an incredible interaction that I’ll always remember. It’s a leveling of the playing field between big companies and consumers that wouldn’t have happened without social media.

PB: How does Twitter data help tell a marketing story?
WH: Twitter is an incredibly rich source of data. Every day, close to half a billion tweets are sent. Search for any topic, and I guarantee you’ll find someone tweeting about it.

For brands, Twitter is like the biggest permanent focus group in the world, free for you to search to find what your customers really think about you. For example, John Legere, the CEO of T-Mobile, famously spends a ton of time on Twitter searching for what his customers love and hate about T-Mobile. He also responds directly to tweets from users, who were so shocked that he tweeted them that they’re now clamoring to switch to T-Mobile.

PB: How can brands do better on Twitter?
WH: Companies should see Twitter as the public, human face of their brands. By human, I mean imagine that your brand is a human being, and imagine your social media conversations as real human conversations you’re having with other human beings.

For example, no one in real life actually wants to be friends with someone who just keeps blabbing on about how he or she is the greatest person in the world. Similarly, your Twitter profile shouldn’t be a one-way conversation where you just post links to corporate press releases or generic product shots.

Instead, engage with your customers. Post advice and tips. Answer their questions and respond to their tweets as quickly as possible. Retweet your users’ content, such as when they post a beautiful photo. Like your users’ content, and thank them when they give you feedback. That gives your users the feeling of a “win.”

It’s basic social reciprocity— just as we need to give and take in our daily relationships, so should brands on Twitter.

PB: What will people gain from attending your conference presentation?
WH: Businesses often struggle to understand what their customers are really thinking. In my presentation, I’ll talk about the pitfalls of relying on self-reported surveys when conducting customer research.

I’ll then showcase a novel experiment we ran on Twitter where we tested how a good (or bad) customer service experience from a brand affects the customer’s future decision-making process.

In that experiment, we found thousands of users who had a customer service interaction with an airline on Twitter and how we quantified— in dollar terms— how the customer changed their behavior after those positive interactions. For example, after a good experience, is that customer more willing to fly the airline again? Or will they just default for the cheapest carrier?

We’ll also discuss some interesting findings from recent psychology experiments that businesses should adopt if they want to impress their customers.

Want to hear more from Wayne? Join us at the Marketing Analytics & Data Science Conference. Learn, network and share best practices with the most influential leaders in data science and analytics. Stay connected at #MADSCONF.

Brilliance@Work profile originally published on

Peggy L. Bieniek, ABC is an Accredited Business Communicator specializing in corporate communication best practices. 

Connect with Peggy on LinkedInTwitterGoogle+, and on her website at 

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