Getting the cold shoulder on Twitter

Imagine for a moment that you’re looking for a specific item.

You approach the salesperson in your favourite store or boutique and ask, “Do you have any navy pencil skirts?”

The salesperson responds: “All of our skirts are on the second floor. Just go up those stairs.”

That doesn’t feel very helpful, does it? You were probably hoping she might lead you to the correct spot and even say “Can I help you find something in your size?”

The helpful reaction isn’t just what I might expect while out shopping. It’s a reaction I have gotten, which made me happy to spend hard-earned money in that store.

If I was given the less-than-helpful reaction, I’d probably turn on my (fabulous) heel and leave the store.

And so it was this morning that I was a tad disappointed in the reaction I received from one of my favourite breweries this morning on Twitter.

I’m hooked on the Summer Shandy by Leinenkugel’s, a small brewery out of Chippewa Falls, Wisc. We had our first shandy last summer on our cross-country trip to Nova Scotia. We found it delicious and refreshing.

I’d heard Molson is releasing a shandy under the Rickard’s line and I thought it might be cool if (my favourite Alberta) brewery is planning a shandy release.

So I asked the brewery’s Twitter account last night: What are the chances <brewery name> has or is working on a shandy for the summer?

I got my response this morning: You can check out our brewing schedule to see what we’re up to this summer.

And the person behind the account added the website address. Not the URL to a specific page, mind you. Just the main landing page.

Since I hadn’t had enough coffee, I responded with my trademark snark: Thanks for being informative and engaging!

I’m not sure they got the intent and then let me know specifically that the brewery is working on a fruit ale.

Now, I’m all about using social media to drive traffic to a website (for 99% of you, that’s how you got here). But if you aren’t going to address a customer’s needs with direct, friendly responses, you stand to lose that customer.

The inaugural J.D. Power and Associates Social Media Benchmark Study revealed:

  • 87 per cent of respondents to a survey say their online social interaction with the company “positively impacted” the likelihood they’ll purchase from that brand
  • Consumers 18 to 29 years old are more likely to use a brand’s social media site for servicing interactions (43%) than for marketing (23%), showing the importance of incorporating social media as an emerging customer service channel

So, yes, it’s important for brands to be on Twitter and interacting with customers, both existing and potential.

But it’s even more vital for the person handling that person’s Twitter account to be responsive, engaging and informational.

Consider my Facebook friends’ reactions:

That’s not customer service; it’s condescending and kind of rude and tells the person that their complaint is being “addressed” by a robot. ~ L.V.

I don’t “tweet” but in the costumer service industry, I would call that the easy way out! So NO! ~ K.E.

And from a Twitter friend:

Had the brewery account said “no, but we have a fruit ale on schedule; check it out!” and then sent me to a specific landing page, my knickers might not have gotten into a knot and this post never would have happened.

In the meantime, I’ll crack the lid on a couple of those Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy cans that I brought back from the states this week.



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