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As an experiment in customer service via social networks, in this case Twitter, Software Advice recently had four employees send customer service tweets via their personal accounts to 14 leading consumer brands in seven industries.

In collaboration with CIO, Software Advice wanted to test the speed, efficiency, and quality of the brands' replies to tweeting customers. 

Each company was tweeted to once per weekday for four consecutive weeks. Each tweet fell into one of these categories:

  • Urgent help needed
  • Positive
  • Negative
  • A question from the company's FAQ page
  • Technical (i.e., needing more than one interaction for a resolution)

For the first and third weeks, the four employees used the brands' Twitter handles (e.g., @brandname), which ensured that Twitter would notify the companies that they were called out in a tweet. For the second and fourth weeks, the tweets mentioned only the brand name—not the handle.

So, in this socially connected world, how did the top 14 brands respond to customers' talking about them or reaching out to them online?

Not very well.

The companies responded to only 14% of the tweets.

"One of my goals was to see if any of the brands would identify us as active socializers and improve their response time. Not one of the 14 brands did," said Ashley Furness, a CRM analyst for Software Advice and one of the employees who tweeted to the brands.

The findings of the experiment are displayed in the the following infographic:

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Veronica Jarski is the Opinions editor and a senior writer at MarketingProfs. She can be reached at

Twitter: @Veronica_Jarski