Some additional comments  came in concerning the Customer Service using Twitter? Article. Below are the comments and some observations:

Bob Last

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?

Glenn Donovan

Glenn Donovan

Independent Strategy Consultant


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 (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.

Adele’s  Observations:

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.

Frank BrinkmanFrank Brinkman

I love your response….  The big word is augment..  The other important idea is managing clients preception of the service they receive thru open and frequent communication.   SouthWest is managing their clients perception by active engagement with any communication media the client uses..  Active engagement meaning they are actively searching out media items that is related to their business.
I agree with your last point …   “The follow on how to avoid the problem in the first place or, if you cannot avoid the problem, how to minimize the customer pain, perhaps by notification of the issue before it hits the customer.”
Avoiding the problem is a purely cost issue.  Marketing determines the volume they can sell at what price.  This data is transferred into what costs can be spent on development. Product Development is charged with the delicate balance of delivering a quality product, on schedule, and within those cost constraints.  These facts dictates there will be defects in any and all products.   Each iteration of development should develop tools that continually adapt and build a testing environment to eliminate previous types of problems. This is not something new.  It is a standard development process. The focus is delivering a product within cost… Lots of management have lost jobs over this issue.
Most issues are found in the Client’s environment.  Each Client is exercising different pathways through the product this exercises the product uniquely and finds errors that could not be tested. The missing piece is the active engagement to alert the client to an issue, fix the problem automatically where possible or provide a way for the client to update their product quickly and easily.   I found this again to be a cost issue.   Many organizations do not want to spend the effort and funds to have an affective engagement process.  Their reactive  engagement in product support handles problems identified by the Clients at the cheapest rate possible.  They are rewarded for reduced support costs because this reduces the cost associated with the product and improves profitability. Wrong…They should be rewarded on active engagement and delivery time of the solution.  Technology is not in place to eliminate all errors so it is better to reward how fast the correct solution is found and delivered to all client base.   This strategy will create environments that will continually improve the development, test, delivery process.
I truly believe SouthWest has it right..  The real cost is the reduction in client perception in the quality of the product this will affect the acceptance of the product.. In every market they enter the airfares go down,  air travelers take SouthWest, and their market share goes up.   A good example of the problem is Microsoft introduction of new versions of system software.  Version after version has quality issues.   Clients have refused to move to newer versions.   Although Apple is a very small portion of the marketplace it is growing as a result of the perceived quality of the new software.  Another is the current state of the automobile industry.    How is Toyota handling the problem of random acceleration of some of their cars?
Adele, You are on the right track.

I welcome comments, suggestions and questions.


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Adele Berenstein

Adele Berenstein is an Experienced Customer Satisfaction Executive, recently retired from a Large Global IT Organization after a long productive management career including Sales, Marketing, Services, teaching and education center management and most recently, 19 years in customer satisfaction management. She turned around divisions with customer satisfaction problems, implemented measurable improvements and management systems, and implemented programs to prevent problems from ever affecting customers.

One Response to “More Comments about “Customer Service using Twitter?” Articles”

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