Customer Service – The second most important use for TwitterMay 1, 2008
By now you are aware of Twitter’s potential for promotion (if not, feel free to scroll down to get a few ideas…go ahead, I’ll wait…). I believe Twitter can have an even more relevant and practical purpose for your business – customer service. Twitter’s basic premise is that it’s tighter premise of micro-blogging (sending out your stream of thought in 140 characters or less) should be broadcasting trends and pulses of activity through the internet and across cellphones at the speed of light. If you plug in and listen to that stream, you should be able to take the pulse of the twittersphere, quicker than it will spread to the traditional media outposts. If your job is customer service that can allow you to diffuse situations before it becomes one.
Before I get into that, let’s take one step back and set the rest of the stage. Twitter forces the participants to actually be someone where there is an opportunity to form a personal relationship. If a Twitterer (user) is merely a retweeter (auto-forwards news, stories, songs, links, etc,) of press releases, headlines, or favorite links, without personality, it basically defeats the purpose and becomes a one-way RSS feed. Developing a personality that customers can relate to on a one-on-one level is something that not only the customers enjoy, but large companies struggle with creating no matter how hard they try. It gives a perception that you are open and accessible to your customer base. You will also give of the perception that you are acting quickly (if you respond in a timely manner), since the Tweets (messages) are delivered either via cellphone or online to two of the most popular and oft-used tools for communication.
Several companies have taken the leap into Twitter and a few are even delving into Customer Service. Comcast (@Comcastcares) and Dell (@RichardatDell) both have a Twitter account to field issues, answer questions, arrange for service and solve problems. Both of these companies have had major problems with their reputation on the internet (bloggers and others are quick to vocalize complaints). Both companies are now trying to make sure they have their own voice on the web. I would encourage business owners and those on positions to decide to do this, to make sure that whoever takes on this role has the following attributes: great communication skills, customer service training, social media proficiency in the tools they are using, and are empowered to take the action necessary to solve the issues that will arise. Customers are savvy and can smell a corporate spokesperson a million clicks away.
Another use for Twitter that is closely related to Customer Service when there are issues is that Twitter can be used as an online information desk as well. H & R Block (@hrblock) and Jet Blue (@jetblue) are two great examples of this function in use. Both companies monitor the Twitstream for mentions of their companies or questions, and form responses back to these people. This again puts a more personal face on your company, and allows for me (and several more of your customers) to avoid one of my biggest pet peeves, the automated phone systems.
At Sterling Cross Communications we are assisting clients is setting up services like these and would love to see how we can help you with any questions or initiatives you may have with Twitter. You can reach me via Twitter @MrChristopherL) or at our website: www.sterlingcrossgroup.com. Feel free to tweet anytime!
Posted in Brand differentiation, social media | Tagged @MrChristopherL, Christopher Lower, Comcast, Customer Service, Dell, H&R Block, Jetblue, micro-blogging, PR, Twitter, Twitter as a business tool |