Customer service is a large and important task. You need to be a good listener, identity needs, make customers feel appreciated, help people understand how your company works, know how to apologize, and give feedback so the company can improve. Can you say that you provide all of that to your customers over the phone or email? Now, are you ready to extend all of those things your Twitter account? Probably not. Here are some things you need to consider before you take this leap.
Opening the floodgate to have people complain about your company on Twitter
People are going to say want they want about your brand on the Internet. But once you let your Twitter handle become a customer service tool, you can never turn back. Once people use Twitter to complain and get a faster response there than via your phone or email system, they will go straight to Twitter the next time they have an issue. You might be conditioning the customer to use this mode to fix their issues. Note that some companies like Amazon.com and Apple do not offer customer service through Twitter. When people complain on Twitter about the brand, they redirect the customer to more appropriate channels.
If you respond to one, you have to respond all
You can’t pick and choose who to respond to. Good, bad, and ugly complaints will all have to be handled in some way. Because if you answer one customer and not the other, the un-answered customer is only going get more upset, creating a larger problem than you already have. So, it’s all or nothing.
People complain in real time via Twitter, so you need to respond in real time
Responding 10 hours later is like responding 10 days later in the social media world. Your customers use Twitter because they believe they will get an answer quickly. If you can’t have someone manning the Twitter station at all times (or a least during business hours) don’t do it.
The best thing to do…
People are going to complain about your brand on social media sites like Twitter. The best and first thing to do is actually try to get them off the social networking form and on to a private conversation like email or phone. It is probably going to be easier to help someone with a problem through email or phone than by trying to solve a problem through 140 character tweets (though there are exceptions).
The phone is the best way to go..
Forture.com did a test of 9 major companies customer service asking for help over Twitter, on the phone, through email and website. The companies were Zappos, Delta, Rubbermaid, Hyatt, Dell, Microsoft, Comcast, and Bank of America. The final verdict, even though many of the companies’ Twitter handles were responsive, was that the old fashion telephone call was by far the quickest and easiest way to get help.
Twitter is a great very to connect with people, share links, and get caught up on the news, but be sure you have a plan in place before using it for customer service.