Monday, August 30, 2010

How to Use Twitter for Customer Service

Using social media, virtually anyone can complain about a company, its service or products. What this means for companies is a need to swiftly manage customer complaints so they don't escalate and damage brand reputation. This is particularly applicable to Twitter, as its real time search functions means companies can now monitor customer complaints and respond to them quickly.

Many companies now maintain their own Twitter page in an effort to provide a new type of customer service. Instead of the traditional customer service model, where consumers had to approach and contact companies, companies are being increasingly proactive and actively seek opportunities to mitigate customer complaints. For example, US Telcom giant AT&T maintains a Twitter channel (@ATTCustomerCare) which has a dedicated customer care team who spend their days monitoring the AT&T brand and helping people with their issues. Their channel has over 4,000 followers and acts as an online customer care headquarters which addressees issues ranging from product information to faulty goods. This Twitter channel also centralises AT&T's online customer care, and directs individual customers (with their complaints) to the relevant departments' Twitter accounts. They do this by tagged departments with @replies.

From a consumer's perspective, Twitter helps eliminate some of the common frustrations that surround customer care, including having to call various departments and wait for the dreaded 'please hold the line'. That said, because Twitter is a real time channel, customers may also have higher expectations for customer service. Once customers tweet their complaint and companies' acknowledge it; customers expect a follow up or resolution within a timely manner. After all, the company has publicly acknowledged their complaint, which means consumers expect companies to step up their customer service.

However, before companies dive into using Twitter for customer care and support, it is important to remember that the key (like most social media) is to listen. Companies such as Big Pond and their customer service team (@BigPondTeam) spend most of their time listening to customers and proactively approach them. However, this includes responding when both complaints and compliments are made, as this shows customers they are heard and valued.

By doing real time searches, companies can see what is said about them and what sort of comments people are making. This helps nip the bud of any complains that may escalate. From a company's perspective, Twitter is useful for customer service not only because it's a preemptive system, but also because it facilitates innovation. The more attentive companies are to their consumers, the more they know about customer needs and thus find new opportunities to improve company service and products.

It is however, important to put Twitter in context to overall customer service. Although it's useful to understand how companies can use Twitter to respond to and 'nip the bud' of customer complaints, all customer service channels must be treated with equal consideration. Companies which focus their attention all on Twitter and social media may risk caring more about their brand and reputation than they are with true service.

Friday, August 6, 2010


I've been thinking about starting a blog for a while, but now I've stopped thinking and started doing. I'm unsure of this blog's 'direction', but I'll keep it to being about things I'm interested in, things that amuse me or anything that comes to mind.

I'm genuinely interested in communications - whether it be interpersonal, cross-cultural, to advertising or PR - so this will be my starting point. All things communication.