Twitter for Customer Service? These Companies Get It Right

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If you follow my blog and my writings (and rantings, and presentations, and panels — if you ever talked to me about this) you know that I am not a big fan of using Twitter for Customer Service.

It is not that it is not possible to do it well, but it is that the resolution times, close rates, escalation rates, and just about any other metric you can use are so horrible by comparison that to do it is almost a waste of time and resources.

This prompted me, about a year ago, to write a post advocating the use of a single channel strategy, and even before that to deliver a presentation on the failing metrics of social channels.

Although things have improved, somewhat, for smart organizations that have learnt along the way, my core statement remains as it was at the beginning: Twitter is no more than an appropriate triage tool for Customer Service (I think I called it an IVR back then, I still do today).

Midst the poor performance and lack of understanding from organizations though, few glimmer of hopes are emerging.

Here are two examples, in pictures, of companies that are getting the gist of using Twitter for triage and escalation when necessary – and have the right tools to do so (which is the hardest thing to do using Twitter for Customer Service BTW).

Example One: T-Mobile Escalates To Chat.

In the picture below you can see a customer asking for help with a billing issue. Now, there are two bad ways to handle this: 1) ask the customer to call and give them a ticket number (after asking them to follow you, DM back and forth), 2) try to resolve the issue via Twitter (yes, even via DM) in 140 characters at the time.

Alas, T-Mobile did it right – realizing it would take more than 140 (or 280, or 420 — yes, I did take math in college) characters to resolve it, they immediately escalate to chat.

Why this is better than calling or emailing?

The customer wants immediate resolution, more than likely, and they come to Twitter for that. By escalating to a real-time channel (chat is one) that is easier to use, less expensive (on average) than phone, and can be even outsourced without major issue (as opposed to the telephone being outsourced and customers complaining) they can control the SLAs, the privacy of the customer, and the wishes of the customer. Even if the customer wants attention, and not real time resolution, the offer is a good way to set expectations: we are here to help, in real time.

BTW, I clicked on the link, it worked – but it was time-sensitive and expired shortly after it was issued – even better.

I also imagine that the chat session would show up in the unified desktop that T-Mobile agents have, where they will get access to KB, customer history, etc. Likely better than the tools they have for Twitter (educated guess based on what I know they do).

Example Two: Amazon Escalates To Web-Based Ticketing.

In this second example a customer complained about something that was not right with a product made by one of Amazon’s companies. They quickly replied with a link to provide additional information.

The interesting part here is that (if you notice, my name is at the top of the screen) by doing this Amazon can see the type of customer I am (I am prime, and I use it very often), what products I purchased, when, and other information they need — in addition to being able to link my Twitter ID to my Amazon account (if not done before).

Social ID correlation is a huge, huge, huge problem for companies — and this is an easy solution to that problem if customers are logged in.

Bottom Line: Learn how to use each channel properly. Social channels are horrible for resolution (even if you get past the 40% of unnoticed events, the 10-20% average close rate, and the 10x or more resolution times) and they are perfect for triage and escalation.

Do it well.

What do you think? Other examples of well done Customer Service via Twitter? That is scalable? Viable? Sustainable?

Would love to hear you thoughts…

Image via flickr

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