The company decided to launch the product early just for existing customers and used social vehicles such as Twitter and its blog to tell customers about the early availability. The result was an upgrade rate that was more than five times better than for any previous upgrade launch, she said. In addition, at the official launch, the company had more new licensees than expected, due to the buzz, she said.
There are pitfalls to using social networking, though, and the executives had advice for companies just starting to use it. Companies should carefully handle negative comments online, they said. "There are few people who contribute content, but a lot who read it, so it's important you engage," Samano said. If a company ignores negative comments, that will attract more of them, he said.
Companies also shouldn't simply impose sanctions by deleting negative comments. "Never sanction," he advised. "That's the worst thing you can do. If you sanction, you'll turn one complaint into 50."
He's found that in the vast majority of cases, the moment that T-Mobile jumps in to try to correct a problem, many other people who are fans of the product will also chime in to try to help.
Parallels has a specific Twitter handle, @parallelscares, to which it directs people who are really "frustrated," Johnston said. Typically, once the person feels that the company is trying to help, the user relaxes and accepts the help. Plus, she said that often the customer returns to the public forum to publicly thank Parallels for the help.
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