Some additional comments came in concerning the Customer Service using Twitter? Article. Below are the comments and some observations:
Content manager at HDI
Put the Twitter people on the telephone so I don’t have to wait for them to answer the phone. How many manager’s have the FTE’s to hire new people when the phone queue is already too large?
Twitter is really just a broadcast mechanism with groups formed voluntarily around a particular author/publisher. The 140 char limit really is inappropriate for any kind of complex interaction. However, there are scenarios in the open source community where this might make some sense, where support is given by those hoping to build up their authority/reputation so they might someday monetize it. But for real interactions with a company doing customer support, it is patently absurd. Btw, I have over 10 yrs in CRM, am a Net Promoter Certified customer experience management consultant and have several web properties of my own, so I know something about this, having worked with hundreds of organizations on how to please their customers while delivering cost effective support.
My recommendation for a company seeking to have a more informal support channel is to look at forming forums/communities around specific products. You’ll be amazed by how helpful some of your customers will be to each other. With proper moderation and interaction by smart people at the company, it can become a very powerful tool for reducing costs, increasing satisfaction and a source for all kinds of insight into your customers minds.
btw, you can follow me on twittter here http://twitter.com/ScribblerG (can’t help myself).
Also from Glenn
The companies in your article risk creating some very unsatisfied customers. Queue jumping, multiple case submissions and encouraging a class of customers to obtain what seems preferential service simply based on the presence of a Twitter account all seem ill advised to me. A well monitored email support system could accomplish the same thing, and would be much more widely used to catch the escalations while promoting personalized communications between support staff and customers – all things that Twitter provides nothing special for.
What I do think they are doing is getting folks who are social media savvy (a very small pct of the population) to vent their frustrations to them, versus in other fora. This may have some salutatory effect on brand, but I’m not at all sure it’s really meaningful. This may be somewhat useful in large B2C brands, but you essentially are creating another channel for customer service that is really limited and draws folks to it for lots of other purposes. It certainly is of very limited value in b2b settings. Bottom line is I need to see real movements in the needle of cust sat/loyalty and brand attributable to Twitter before I would recommend a client do this.
I agree with you that most companies are having difficulty funding phone lines and that creates wait times if the balance between number of staff and incoming calls gets out of balance. So customers will use other vehicles to complain..Twitter being one of them.
I do not believe for many organizations Twitter will be an effective mode to handle the customer complaints BUT it is an effective tool to let customers know you ‘hear them and promise to get them help. Looking at the actual tweets..that is what they are doing. Think of Twitter as the escape valve for frustrated customers. Better than having them complain or enter a Sidewiki.
I wrote another article Factors to Consider when using Twitter for Customer Service . To get faster service and improve the productivity of the existing support staff, getting to the right ‘skilled’ person can improve speed of response faster than trying to train everyone in the call center to be generalists. Twitter can help do that by getting an idea of what the ‘topic’ of discussion is.
I agree with the value of having product related forums where users can help each other. An example of that is a Quicken product… where the customers are helping teach other voluntarily and reducing the service costs for Quicken! See my post Volunteer Customer Service improves customer Satisfaction .
I don’t think that businesses should choose between Twitter monitoring and having a world class customer service organization. I think they need both. The examples in many of the Twitter cases I have seen, have taken the customer off line, or asked if they had been in the normal customer service stream first.
I would expect that the objective of a Twitter based program at a company would be to show the rest of the Twitter users that the company CARES, that they want to resolve the problem, BUT the actual resolution of the problem takes place in the normal customer service stream.
As for queue hopping, the old saying ..the squeaky wheel gets the grease..will always apply. Only the squeaking is heard worldwide now.
Look at the converse, if the company does not show any interest in complaints being posted on Twitter, on complaint sites, or on Sidewiki, what does that say about them? What will customers and prospects think about the company? Bad word of mouth spreads rapidly in social media and is very very visible.
I welcome comments, suggestions and questions.