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January 26, 2009

Managing Negative WOM Through Twitter

Ft60f_black_front_240x298_35 For Christmas, my wife got me a Polar FT60, a cross-training heart rate monitor and general fitness computing aid. It's the first time I've ever owned anything remotely similar. This thing is a technological marvel. It's worn on the wrist like a watch, but it also has a chest strap and optional GPS aid or a pedometer. With a gazillion features and only 4 buttons to manage them, even while scanning (not reading) the manual, I was immediately perplexed, and I said as much on Twitter.


As you can see, initially I didn't even mention the brand. I wasn't trying to knock the company or the product. I was just pointing out a problem that's inherent with a feature-rich device that has by necessity only a few buttons with which to interact with the features.

Once I figured out how to capture my heart rate, I posted that I figured it out, and that my heart rate was 61. But then I saw the word "elite," and it didn't seem to match my understanding of human biology. A higher resting heart rate SHOULD mean I'm in worse shape, not better.

Because Twitter was on, I decided to solicit an explanation from Twitter, and for good measure I added a hash tag so it would be seen by Jason Falls' Twit2Fit social media fitness group (which I've written about before), even if they weren't following me on Twitter.


I mentioned the brand this time (Polar), but not because I was knocking them, but rather to provide context to what I was seeing so someone could answer my question.

Within a few minutes, I found the page in the manual that explained what I was seeing (that the number wasn't my heart rate, but an index they use to determine fitness).

"Never mind," I posted to Twitter. "HRM told me my 'index' not my heart rate. #twit2fit"

Within an hour, someone called "ChrisPolarUSA," who appears to be an employee of Polar's call center, offered to help me through whatever issue I was having.


I didn't see it that night, but I responded the next morning that I figured it out, and he wrote back to let me know that I could contact him if I needed anything. I really appreciated that his response was:

  • Timely
  • Useful
  • Personal
  • Friendly

It hadn't even crossed my mind yet to contact tech support. I wasn't soliciting help from Polar. I also didn't denigrating the brand as someone else in a similar situation may have. But even if I had, ChrisPolarUSA likely would have been right on top of it to help me through my problem.

Not everyone needs to have a presence on Twitter 24/7. I don't know that Polar does this round the clock, but the fact that he responded after 9 p.m. (and again at 7 the next morning) surely indicates that they might.

But even if they don't, they've made a believer out of me by listening. But more than that, they listened where their customers are, not where they wished them to be (such as on their proprietary fitness aid, polarpersonaltrainer.com, which I've been meaning to get around to using but haven't).

So, Polar... If you're listening (and I suspect you are), thank you. Not only for offering to help me solve my problem, but for showing the world that it is possible to deliver great customer service -- even in increments of 140 characters or less. - Cam Beck

P.S. As far as I can tell at this moment, the FT60 rocks!


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This is such a great model of how companies can use social media in a proactive way. I don't expect every company to be on Twitter or respond to blog posts but those that do have definitely earned a new level of respect from me. Great story! Thanks for sharing it!

Awesome story.. Polar is a GREAT company to do business with..some companies like boa or comcast use twitter to make up for poor support, i love when i see a company with already great service using these new tools to deliver even better support

I think it's okay to add here... ChrisPolarUSA contacted me directly to thank me for the post, even though I didn't ping him or otherwise notify him that I posted about Polar.

Once again -- good job, folks.

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