Judging a Company in the Age of Social Media

image In the last few days, I’ve had two positive experiences with this. I don’t see the point of just flaming about a product on Twitter unless it’s done something truly egregious. However, pointing out an issue seems like fair game.  In both cases, I think my tweets were pretty much OK.


image I’ve been trying LastPass for the last few weeks to try to get a handle on the many, many different usernames and passwords I use.  It’s bad enough when it’s just your own stuff (banking, airlines, hotels, forums, blogs, etc.) but when you layer client sites on top of that it can get just plain crazy.

I really like the way LastPass works, but IE8 has been crashing on me a lot and it wasn’t doing it before I installed LastPass.  Thus the tweet.

image Look at the time lag there. That’s one minute.  Within ten minutes I had an email from Joe Siegrist, the CEO of LastPass, offering to remote into my machine to check things out.  He rummaged around (with my blessing) and made a couple of useful suggestions about disabling a few IE add-ins that had nothing to do with his software but that he knew to cause problems for other people.  We also found some entries in the error log about LastPass, and he’s working with that data now to try to solve the problem.

Microsoft Partner Program

image The Microsoft Partner Program is a huge beastie.  I’m a little tiny gnat on that beastie with my paltry Registered Partner status.  (My dead great-grandmother qualifies for Registered Partner status.) The other day when I got those emails, I figured I’d tweet about it.  It was sort of funny to me and I wondered if anyone else had gotten the emails.


That’s a pretty quick response, too. And from the 800 pound gorilla, natch.  I sent the emails to partnerQ and got a nice email back with some ideas about what had happened and the steps she was going to take to find out what was going on.

So bravo to LastPass and Microsoft for getting it right in these two instances.  Both of these are extremely good examples of what companies today *ought* to be doing with social media.  I was half joking about tweeting about the companies you want to test (if we all did it, they’d be deluged and it wouldn’t work).  But when you have a problem with a company’s products or services, it’s totally appropriate to take to the social media channel.  The companies that monitor things like Twitter and know what to do with them are the ones who will succeed. A sales pitch is the wrong answer. Telling you you’re mistaken is the wrong answer.  Acknowledging the problem and trying to solve it is the right answer and will earn the company loyalty in this world of fickle consumers.  Remember that old statistic that someone who is happy with you will tell one friend, but someone who is unhappy with you will tell ten? In the age of social media, the ratio is even more stacked against the company.  It’s up to them to decide whether to win or lose.


  1. For some companies, it’s not that easy. Broker-Dealers must comply with SEC regulation 17a-4, which requires that all customer communications are logged to WORM-compliant media, and made available for regulators. So there’s an issue in figuring out how to normalize all these communication channels so that they can be captured and retrieved via a common message storage system.

    • Interesting point. But if I tweet something like “@BigBank has miscalculated my balance. I wonder if they made a mistake?”, wouldn’t it be totally appropriate (and kosher) for @BigBank to tweet back something like “@sympmarc We’re sorry you’re having problems. Please send us the details through the secure customer support site at http://owl.ly/XXXXXX“? While it’s a generic response, it lets me know that I matter. Or does that still run afoul of the regulations? (I’m guessing that it may, though that makes the regulations seem sort of silly. I could run into my banker in the elevator and have them say the same thing and that’s not going on a WORM drive anywhere.)


  2. Marc – Thank you for this post. Clearly, I need to step up my Twitter game to meet that 1-minute response time from @LastPass! I like the point you make about giving companies a chance to make things right. What was really useful about your tweet is that it was specific enough for me to respond with something actionable. Very often, feedback I read from US partners just expresses frustration (usually understandable), without any details about what the person was trying to accomplish, or how the outcome was different from his/her expectations, and many of our feedback mechanisms are anonymous, so there’s no way to ask for more information in order to help. What’s great about Twitter and other social media is that it’s real-time, I can see what you’ve directed to me and respond, either to ask more questions or ask you to continue the conversation elsewhere (e-mail, phone, etc.).


    • Diane:

      Yes, for all of this to work, there’s a responsibility on both sides. If I just tweeted “Microsoft sux”, there’s very little that you can do with it. (I don’t think Microsoft sux, that’s only illustrative.) If we want the social media channels to work from the consumer side, we have to be constructive and willing to go beyond the 140 characters.


  3. Excellent post, Marc.

    Interesting about the WORM discussion. I had a very good customer service experience with the Bank of America Twitter team–the only six people in the company who seem to understand anything about customer service, BTW.

    I retweeted this, because I think lots of companies/orgs should see this example of how SocMed can provide a great ROI.

    Jim Bob


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