I would like to share with you a great example of Twitter micro-blogging by UK VoIP provider www.gradwell.com. At the same time I will also look to apply marketing concepts and principles to Gradwell’s use of Twitter and it would be great to have your feedback on any other marketing theories that apply, so feel free to comment.
Background to Gradwell: Gradwell is one of the UK’s leading VoIP service providers and is a strategic business partner of Tiscali.
Prior to the withdrawal of Twitter’s free SMS alerts service in August 2008, Gradwell was already an active user of Twitter’s micro-blogging service. Gradwell also saw an opportunity to assist UK Twitter users by introducing its www.twittex.com service – a simple prepay service that delivers updates from your friends to your mobile phone, but this is going off subject.
Gradwell’s use of Twitter: Gradwell’s use of Twitter is for publicly responding to its customers’ need for information used to support their business critical applications.
Gradwell openly identifies network problems and alerts users through tweets, responding faster than telephone or personal e-mail.
At the same time their Twitter service helps reduce helpdesk and support costs that can be a drain on the company’s resources.
Example of Twitter in practice: you are a CTO interested in monitoring your VoIP network supplied by Gradwell. You will be interested in keeping track of any possible upgrades, repairs, system maintenance, basically anything that affects the performance of your VoIP network that will in turn affect your company and ultimately the bottom line. If you have a call centre which is your main customer touch point then it is essential that it delivers the promised service level.
By following Gradwell’s VoIP Twitter feed you can be alerted to important network information as well as being given the opportunity to respond directly to Gradwell’s tweets, questioning further details.
In total Gradwell provides 6 Twitter feeds for its core services (Gradwell Status, Broadband Status, Email Status, Hosting Status, Infrastructure Status, VoIP Status) all of which have been integrated within the corporate site. http://www.gradwellstatus.com/twitter-feeds/ There are only 36 followers so far, which is small in comparison to their customer base, but they could well be the largest customers of Gradwell so this service is vital.
This use of Twitter is an example of true transparency in terms of showing existing customers, potential customers and competitors the service level of Gradwell’s network.
Applying the marketing: The ‘Listeners’ (customers) use Gradwell’s service feeds as a monitoring tool. The ‘Talker’ (Gradwell) uses the service to communicate latest network status. This is a two way flow of communication, so the Listener and Talker personalities can be reversed. The product/service in question that is being discussed can be defined as the ‘Hub’.
From a marketing perspective this is a great example of using a social media tool to deliver an additional level of customer service. By supporting services via Twitter feeds it allows Gradwell to enhance customer satisfaction that in turn meets and exceeds customer expectation.
We can apply Porter’s generic strategies model to Gradwell’s use of Twitter. The strategic direction for Gradwell’s services is ‘product differentiation’. Twitter is an additional customer service element, contibuting to improved brand performance and customer loyalty.
In Gradwell’s case, the use of Twitter as a customer service tool can help to form an integral part of the company’s ‘customer value proposition’ further enhancing Gradwell’s competitive advantage.
This can be seen as a unique selling point and additional benefit to CTO’s who require immediate service status updates as part of their VoIP service.
Gradwell’s Twitter service also offers an opportunity for engagement through customer self-service. Customers value the status updates via Twitter as a form of transparent communication.
The success of this social media engagement can be measured in terms of customer loyalty/re-purchase of Gradwell’s twitter followers as well as monitoring the content of conversation from followers’ tweets.