Many marketing professionals now work with social media as a marketing channel day-in and day-out, myself included. As such, I fully appreciate the power that it can harness for both businesses and consumers, but until recently, I have rarely utilized it from the other side of the fence – as a disgruntled consumer. However, in early December I had an interesting experience of the megaphone power of Twitter and why it comes with much responsibility. Are you sitting comfortably? Here’s my little Twitter tale…

On December third, feeling nicely organized about my Christmas shopping, I had ordered several books for my partner’s Christmas present from a small online book store. I patiently waited to receive them, occasionally inserting the order number into the online system, only to be told repeatedly by the unchanging online message that the order was on its way. After ten days waiting to receive them, I sent my first polite email requesting an update on their E.T.A. No response. I chased up that email – again nothing! A few days had passed and having found no phone number available on the website, I sent one final email to try and trace my order. When that also failed, I sent a fairly polite Facebook message. Their Facebook page seemed to be regularly updated so I thought, that would definitely instigate a response, but again, to my surprise and annoyance, I got no response.

When I reached the two-week mark with zero response of any kind, I started to get kind of nervous that my partners gift wasn’t going to arrive at all and that I would be several gifts short, come Christmas day! So, (and I am not proud to say it) I took matters into my own hands. Having been out for a few Christmas drinks with friends, I sent out a couple of rather frustrated, rather public tweets about the poor customer service I had received from said company. Of course I included an @mention of their Twitter handle to ensure they received the tweets too. When I awoke the next day, I had numerous Twitter notifications awaiting me – at last a response! Several messages back and forth and their customer services person (who also turned out to be the boss!) had refunded me the cost of the books and promised to send out some new ones ASAP!

This response was over and above anything I had hoped, as I simply wanted an E.T.A. on the books that I had bought and paid for! Not feeling right about accepting this freebie, I told the company that I would give the refunded funds to a charity that I knew they supported. Additionally, as I know all too well the impact that negative tweets can have on a company’s reputation, I was sure to make good on the tweets that I had sent out and even offered to delete them. The book company said that wouldn’t be necessary, so instead I sent out numerous positive updates on my previous tweets to ensure that their followers knew about the subsequent positive service I had received.

What’s interesting about this little story, is that whilst my polite private emails and Facebook message went unnoticed, the more public tweets were instantly picked up upon and instigated some action to right the situation. I think this serves to highlight the immense power that Twitter has given to consumers. However, as is only fair and right, if you do find yourselves with a justifiable reason to use Twitter in this way, then remember that with much Tweeting comes much responsibility! So, if the situation gets resolved satisfactorily, then be sure to do the right thing and send some follow up positive thank you tweets, or offer to delete the originals.