Tweets Not All Sweet on Black Friday

santa online 2Social media has brought the customer experience more in-focus than ever before, and this became very apparent during the start of the 2010 holiday shopping season on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Consumers made their lists of who had the best deals, based on what they learned on Twitter and other sites. The brave ones, armed with their mobile phones, made the trek into the brick-and-mortar retail stores to fight the crowds for their coveted items.

Other customers started their own Cyber Monday on Black Friday and decided to stay home and shop online. Armed with their own lists, and easy access to their social networks, they shopped and Tweeted heavily on both days.

Tealeaf, using advanced sentiment analysis from Crimson Hexagon, took a look at the tweets which occurred between Black Friday and Cyber Monday about the online customer experience, and here is what they found:

  • Twitter conversations about online shopping increased 256 percent on Black Friday and 202 percent on Cyber Monday compared to a regular shopping day.
  • Shoppers were not shy about sharing their victories and failures as they strived to beat the in-store crowds.
  • 38% of customers were delighted with the online shopping experience.
  • However, nearly a quarter, 24%, of online shoppers cursed and complained their way through the process.
  • 50% of the frustrated shoppers tweeted about the specific issues they were having, such as website errors, out of stocks and other classic online customer struggles.

Here are some examples of the frustrated tweets:

· well, so much for THAT christmas present. couldn’t even figure out how to order. Thanks. *rolling eyes*.”

· Why doesn’t the website work!!!! Need to buy my ticket home. -___-

· I was going to go nuts buying lots of stuff on the website, but it’s been down all day – lots of angry comments on their facebook

· I tried! website won’t let me checkout! I keep hitting refresh!

· I would love to buy the album, but there are issues with the website

I spoke with Geoff Galat, VP of Worldwide Marketing for Tealeaf, to learn more about the social media report they conducted. Geoff shared with me that these numbers are similar to the percentage of customers that experience online shopping frustrations on non-holiday occasions; there were just a lot more of them over the last weekend. More importantly, we discussed how the expressed experience of online shoppers might affect the perceptions of others. In a previous customer survey, Tealeaf found that 51% of online shoppers said social media had influenced their online transactions. When they read a negative comment online, 74% of consumers said it influenced their likelihood to do business with that company; 56% said they would avoid a particular vendor after reading bad reviews. Yikes!

On the other hand, 52% of consumers said they would use a particular vendor after reading good reviews.

What is the key takeaway? Social media has made the consumer online shopping experience one that everyone shares, at least vicariously. The good, the bad, and the ugly are all out in the open for anyone to read – and it is impacting their perceptions and potentially their behaviors.

It is important for companies doing business online to take a closer look at their online experience – not just for purchasing, but across the entire customer lifecycle. Each of these little website experiences might not look like much to the enterprise, but when they add up over time and across many customers, they could result in “death by 1000 cuts” for the website, and for the customer base. Companies need to understand all aspects of their online customer experience, including how customers use the site as well as customer expectations (which could be set by other great websites!), in order to make sure they are delivering the best service to prospects and customers over the holidays – and every day.

What are you seeing happen in the online customer experience that is best – or worst – practice? Please share some thoughts in the comments.

To see the Tealeaf presentation of the report, go here.

(Photo credit: YanC)

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6 Responses

  1. I think the interesting tests will be how long sentiment will last. If you get a bad review on twitter/google will you have to change your company name just to escape the stench? Or do you think customers will be like the proverbial goldfish?

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