By Patrick Avenell

SYDNEY: When it comes to seeking out consumers for feedback, Twitter is fast becoming the tool of choice for retail groups. First it was Dick Smith talking to disgruntled customers, and now Bing Lee has also joined the 140-character revolution.

Bing Lee general manager Phil Moujaes explained to that Bing Lee began tweeting as a way of monitoring and procuring feedback from consumers. One key factor influenced this move.

“It was the increase in popularity, the fast growth of Twitter,” he said. “It’s still early days, but we are looking at it on a daily basis, and any feedback we get from customers, we try to engage with them through Twitter.”

When asked what sort of feedback Bing Lee has received so far, Moujaes reported that the full spectrum had been covered.

“There has been good feedback, and then some feedback that’s not as good, and we try to engage with them, find out if they’ve had a bad experience if we can fix it.”

The move towards Twitter for otherwise traditionally conservative businesses is a product of the enormous media coverage Twitter has received and the nebulous utilitarian value of the tool. Because it is free to use and does not have sponsors, Twitter appears to have no business model. Although it has been used to distribute important information quickly, such as storm and hurricane warnings, the majority of posts are esoteric at best and totally inane at worst.

It is this speak-without-thinking mentality that leads consumers to write potentially harmful posts about businesses. As retail is a sector always in the public’s eye, it is more susceptible than other industries of being affected by negative tweets.

Moujaes believes the feedback Bing Lee has received through Twitter is as important and relevant as he would through more traditional retail research methods.

“It’s good feedback,” he said. “I mean, when you go out there and do mystery shopping in your stores, Twitter is like that, you get instantaneous feedback.”