Listening to the real voice of the customer on Twitter

Monday, 28 June 2021

The oldest documented customer complaint wasn’t in response to a request for feedback but rather an unsolicited salvo against a perceived injustice. Dating from around 1750 BC in Mesopotamia, the small clay tablet describes how a man named Nanni was delivered the wrong grade of copper ore from a merchant named Ea-nasir. And Nanni wasn’t happy, writing in a now extinct East Semitic language, “What do you take me for, that you treat somebody like me with such contempt?”1

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We unfortunately don’t know how or if Nanni’s complaint was ever addressed, but this ancient artifact does highlight that as a species we’ve been complaining for a very long time.

Today we call feedback like Nanni’s customer experience, a term that has taken on many meanings recently. At its most basic, customer experience (CX) is the combination of all the interactions or touchpoints an organisation has with its customers. And it’s a relatively new phenomenon, for it wasn’t until the mid-20th century, with the rise of consumerism, that businesses started to take customer experience seriously as a way to differentiate themselves from the competition. And as these newly empowered consumers now had many choices, businesses realized they needed to do a better job of understanding their customers’ preferences and needs. This led to the birth of the market research industry and of various data collection techniques to capture consumer opinion and feedback.

Today, we have an abundance of research methodologies, data analysis techniques and measures such as NPS and CSAT, but, by and large, customer experience programs are built on feedback collection methods that are 50+ years old. Forrester recently found that an astonishing 70% of organizations rely solely on surveys for customer feedback and a large percentage of these are email surveys.2 Ask yourself, when was the last time you actually completed one?

People are inundated with survey requests these days resulting in low participation rates which ultimately leads to poor data and a lack of customer insight. To try and remedy this survey fatigue, organizations are increasingly incentivizing participation. There’s certainly nothing wrong with this, peoples’ time is valuable and should be compensated, however the introduction of incentives has led to fraud driven by ‘professional’ responders as well as the plague of distributed survey farms and bots. As a result, data quality is suffering.

So, is there another way? The good news is, people haven’t stopped sharing their experiences and opinions, in fact, they’re doing so now more than ever, they’re just doing it in different places. And this is increasingly in the apps and social networks where they’re already spending considerable time. The customer care component of CX has seen massive growth on Twitter throughout the pandemic as stores shuttered and phone lines were clogged. However, it’s the customer feedback element of Twitter that remains untapped and presents a huge opportunity for organizations to understand the real voices of their customers.

But these voices are different from the ones you commonly hear via surveys, which encourage filtered, rationally processed and controlled retrospective responses. Voices on Twitter are raw and emotive because they are expressed while people are actually having that experience. And because they are not directed by specific questions, they often surface feedback you wouldn’t think to ask about.

Twitter has always been a great place for organizations to engage with consumers, not only to resolve their issues and enquiries, but also to learn from the wealth of opinions they freely share. So instead of chasing people around the web or bombarding their inbox for feedback, what if you listened to what they were already saying?

Interested to learn more about how Twitter can support your customer feedback initiatives? Find a partner who can support you at or build your own solution at

2 Forrester’s Q2 2020 State of VoC and CX Measurement Programs Survey

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