On Nov 27, 2009, the New York Times published an articled titled Buying and Selling, Twittering all the Way which highlighted how retailers and their customers are using Social Media to share bargains, problems, purchases and shopping strategies during the start of the peek season for shopping: Christmas. Twitter is highlighted as being the faster way to communicate.
New Customer Services being provided:
1. Some stores were Twittering where the best parking spaces were near their store. ( a new form of customer service during a crowded shopping season)
2. Providing ‘up to the minute’ Inventory information from a sales floor
3. Announcing ‘in store’ deals (replaces the old announcements like ‘Attention KayMart shoppers’!)
4. Providing discount coupons for ‘following’ a retailer
Problem solving using Twitter:
Retailers are assigning tech – savvy employees to respond to Twitter posts. Best Buy began piloting Twelforce, 2500 employees that answer consumer questions on line. They answered 25,000 questions before the US Thanksgiving weekend. The article talks about how one customer on Black Friday, the busiest shopping day in the US of the year, used Twitter after phoning Best Buy’s help line and being told that the wait time for service would be an hour. Within 5 minutes of her Tweet, two Best Buy employees responded. Ultimately the customer had to go back to the store for help (it appears that Best Buy engaged its normal support process) but the customer’s view of responsiveness was significantly improved.
Facebook is also being used be used to interact with customers but it does not have the same level of immediacy as Twitter.
What struck me about this article is how Social Media is being used. Being skilled at Twitter will likely become a basic requirement of a someone who wants to be a retail store employee. And with huge numbers ( eg 2500 at Best Buy) of employees responding to customer tweets, new tools will be needed so that only one employee responds to one customer, not multiple employees responding, as in the case in this article.
Twitter for customer service is going mainstream.
What is your opinion?