Posted by: Chris | March 13, 2008

A Tool to Grasp that Elusive Customer Feedback?


This post by Wendy Piersall at Inspired Business Growth has had me thinking for almost two weeks now about customer feedback. You see, in my youthful idealism, my solution to grasping the elusive prize known as Customer Opinion is to simply to have a face-to-face conversation with all clients and customers, record insights gained, pass them around, evaluate, react (which includes doing nothing at times), and reevaluate. Sounds great, but how realistic is it to expect a face-to-face with every customer when evaluating service provision in a corporation like Wal-Mart? I think Wendy may have a solution.

My thoughts seemed to be reaffirmed this past week in a timely e-mail exchange I had with Ian McKee at Vocanic (blog, The Power of Influence). The question arose about the validity of the Net Promoter Score. For those unfamiliar, NPS is a services marketing evaluation that revolves around a single question: how likely are you to recommend this company to someone else? I had never been challenged to contemplate this question until Ian asked me straight out my thoughts on it. I’ve always respected the metric, but when I had to articulate an opinion about it, my response was that, unless I was for some reason bound to only a single diagnostic, NPS is simply too limited. Sure, one of the great things about NPS is that it encapsulates so many subjective opinions in a simple, quantitative score. But wouldn’t it be great to crack the shell of NPS and hear all of those individual, specific, subjective opinions?

Enter Twitter.

I’ll admit, this concept requires a lot of fleshing out, (I’d love to hear your comments on this), but I was wondering if somehow, Twitter could branch out into a {gasp} formal customer feedback tool? This is essentially what goes on now on Twitter, but in a random manner that is tough to monitor completely. I’m thinking some sort of Twitter console on site, or maybe a talk-to-text type thing so that people don’t have to put their groceries or doggie bags down to use a keyboard. At least provide a link to a Twitter “group” under the company’s name on a card or customer receipt so that people can go home and provide their subjective responses in a sentence, phrase, or whatever form of raw, unprocessed feedback they desire. Essentially, Twitter would simply be aggregating all of the blog posts and tweets people are already posting anyway into one place where company managers and other customers could see. Scary.

The beauty of Twitter is that it is conversation. It is essentially word of mouth. It’s real thoughts, not a scale from 1 to 10. It’s convenient. And it’s only 140 characters long-short enough that most people can endure responding and most managers can endure reading.

How could this idea be fleshed out some more? How could providing Twitter feedback be made to be ultra-convenient in such a scenario? How could responses be aggregated? What about moderation? How seriously could/should company managers take responders who execute ad hominem attacks on individual front-line service employees instead of commenting on the actual service experience? And what about Twitter purists who may see the commercial use of this form of social media as a sellout? Is something like this already out there? Twitterverse is a start-can it be adapted?



  1. Chris
    I like the idea. Essentially any idea that can get a 2-way dialogue with companies working has got to be good. But considering how hard it is to find an email address on many sites you can imagine it will be a while before many companies become this porous and adopt a Twitter scheme…

    Besides, you would have to archive the comments, then put a workflow around it to make sure it goes around to the right people.

    There are many systems out there – our software CustomerGauge helps measure Net Promoter Score and publishes voice of customer in a “Twitter” like way – but the first step for many companies is taking the step to listen…


  2. Hi Adam.
    You’re right, there would definitely be many logistical concerns with something like this. And no guarantee that companies would even pay attention if the logistical concerns were effectively addressed. I hope to run across your tool in my search for the perfect method of capturing the elusive customer feedback!
    Thanks for commenting.

  3. […] Lately, Laura has been writing about the potential of Twitter. Chris at The Transfer is taking an even longer view of the potential of Twitter as a customer feedback tool.  I think that blogging still has a lot of untapped potential as a customer feedback tool, and I enjoyed reading Chris’ vision of Twitter in the Marketer’s toolbox in his post Twitter: A Tool to Grasp that Elusive Customer Feedback? […]

  4. […] was suggested earlier in the year as a tool for getting that elusive customer feedback although Joshua March, a customer service pro, expressed reservations: I know that when customers […]

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