By Patrick Avenell

SYDNEY: The man who tweets on behalf of Dick Smith Electronics is happy with the progress the retailer has made in this space and claims this sort of interaction is proof of Dick Smith’s ‘techxpert’ credentials.

Due to Twitter’s institutionalised brevity – 140 characters – the medium is effective at engaging and communicating with otherwise anonymous members of the public at a casual level. For Dick Smith, the retailer uses the technology for what it calls ‘education’.

“We use Twitter to communicate educational posts to our followers,” said Dick Smith web manager Luke Hilton. “The posts open a two way line of communication for our customers and allows them to ‘Talk to the Techxperts’ direct, to ask us questions and to source the expert advice they need to help make educated purchasing decisions.”

Since launching the new ‘Techxperts’ branding, Dick Smith has needed to back up its claims with actions. As one of only two retailers using Twitter actively, it is distinguishing itself from the more conservative retailers, such as Harvey Norman, Clive Peeters and Retravision.

A key utility of Dick Smith’s Twitter presence is targeting disgruntled customers. Twitter is a hotbed of disgruntled consumers of all industries, so even otherwise harmless brands such as Dick Smith can become tarnished by negative comments, be they justified or not.

“We use it to better understand our customers and serve them better. We also proactively respond to any negative customer feedback by simply asking ‘What was wrong?’ and ‘How can we fix it?’,” said Hilton.

One such consumer to vent their frustration on Twitter was New Zealander Cameron Smith. After complaining on Twitter that the staff at the Featherstone store was unhelpful, Hilton contacted Smith over Twitter asking for Smith to detail his experience more, this time in a private email.

Smith told that he did send a private email to Dick Smith, but that as of Friday last week had not received a reply.

As for Dick Smith’s Twitter popularity, Hilton is happy with the current cache of 710 followers.

“We have attracted 700 followers on Twitter over the past six months. We have made great inroads to establishing Dick Smith as The Techxperts or preferred online retailer for consumer technology, to the point where Hitwise recognised us as number one in online retailing at the end of 2008.”