Tweeting Customer Service

9 Oct

Twitter seems to be a social media platform that people either love or hate, understand or don’t, and the past few years companies have been figuring out where it fits into their communication strategies.

Dan Schawbel claims that Twitter should not be used for marketing, since it requires people to seek out the companies they want to follow. Just because a company follows a potential customer, that doesn’t mean that customer will return the follow and read all the self-promoting tweets. According to Edison Research, only 7% of people are even active on Twitter. Therefore, one of the best uses is for customer service. If a person follows your company, they have an interest, and if they tweet about your company, they probably expect a response. A fast response.

The demands of Twitter include expectations of timely responses. It’s impossible to address every negative tweet, but according to Comcast’s Frank Eliason in USA Today, the benefits of increased transparency outweigh the complaints. Customers get a more personal message on Twitter from companies like Microsoft, which tweets tips and solutions to popular questions, along with links.

Twitter has its critics, like Jonathan Salem Baskin, who claims that companies using Twitter actually have worse customer service. In his view, customers’ increased use of social media to express dissatisfaction is the result of companies cutting costs and relying on the internet for customer service. In the end, companies are just creating more work for themselves by replying to tweets instead of just having good customer service in the first place.

It’s a good point, but what happened first? Did the internet empower customers to voice dissatisfaction they’ve always had, or has the low costs of the internet caused companies to slack in face-to-face service and communication? Either way, Twitter is proving to be a strong tool in customer service strategies.

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5 Responses to “Tweeting Customer Service”

  1. Samantha Platania October 10, 2010 at 8:29 am #

    I thought this was really interesting. I’m new to Twitter, and definitely not in the 7% that’s active. More than seeking out customer service regarding a problem, I think I would more look for the tips and answers to FAQ’s that you said Microsoft does. I think that’s a great way to be transparent in a way that will benefit more people, thus companies will still have time for other customer service issues rather than spending all their time on Twitter.

  2. Allie Romeo October 10, 2010 at 10:59 am #

    I completely agree that it benefits a company because I know when I go on twitter and I read company posts it makes me feel closer to the company. Twitter has definitely been slower to catch on, and as a twitter user I am not constantly on it. I think it is becoming more main stream for companies because it is easy to send quick updates, but people are still hesitant to use it.

  3. Colleen Callery October 10, 2010 at 11:49 am #

    I thought this was really interesting, too. You wrote it really well, and included both sides of the argument, which is great. Maybe the response to customer service on Twitter has to do with the industry or type of customers that are using a particular product. For example, customers to Microsoft or another tech company are going to be used to being online and perhaps expecting such a company to be using things like Twitter to help them. Where as customers for other products may not respond so well if they themselves aren’t inclined to use Twitter.

  4. Elizabeth Baugh October 10, 2010 at 5:02 pm #

    Keeping up with the Twitter account at my job has allowed me to see the benefits in using it to promote professional organizations. I think one important aspect companies need to focus on when Tweeting is to make sure that a professional style is kept. Companies should Tweet without using slang and jargon, and should avoid being too casual. I think this maintains a level of professionalism that consumers will appreciate.

  5. Paige Zanelli October 10, 2010 at 6:02 pm #

    I’m nto yet completely convinced of Twitters power- and of its marketing ability for corporations. I would never personally go first to twitter if I had a problem that needed fixing, I would call the help line. IM this way, I definitely think god customer service needs to be achieved first, and then, maybe, turn to Twitter as a backup

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