Deepak Gupta Twitter Customer Service

Elizabeth Hendry

Earlier posts on this blog have enthusiastically endorsed the idea of using Twitter for customer service.   Virgin, British Airways and other airlines have used it very successfully.  I even have friends who swear by it when they have to meet a plane.   There has been talk about a better response from businesses that have previously failed to respond effectively through telephone and e mail.  It all sounds very promising… but have you thought a bit further?   What happens when the novelty wears off?  How do you manage thousands of followers… do you have to follow them?  What about their irrelevant tweets… the overload blackouts… staff shortages?

Research has confirmed that the more methods of contacting your business that you make available to your customers and potential customers, the better response you get.  We also know that the better your customer service, the more loyal your customers will be.  The question then is: is your existing customer service as good as Virgin’s or British Airways’?

If a business has already failed to respond effectively to e mail, it could be because 30% of e mails seem to be going astray.  It could also be that the business does not regard customer service as one of its top priorities: part of its marketing strategy.  If this is the case, will an already inadequate service be improved by dissipating its energies further?

I only have about 6,000 followers on Twitter.  This number falls when I neglect the medium for a few weeks and rises when I put more effort into it.  I can assure you that being effective on Twitter is time consuming.  Either you have to employ people and delegate, or you do have to spend hours per day on keeping in touch.

There are only three ways that anyone can contact you.

1.       You have to follow him: then you receive every tweet he sends out.  These tweets march down the page at ever increasing speeds as your following grows.

2.       He can prefix his tweet with @your identifier.  This can seriously reduce the characters available for the message.

3.       If you follow him, he can send you a direct message (DM), but you can’t reply unless he follows you.

This process of follow/be followed carries problems with it.  There seems to be a series of blocks preventing you from creating a large following, unless you have at least 10% more followers than people you follow.

If you wanted to use Twitter effectively for customer service, you would need to use the direct message service.  This means you would have to follow everyone who followed you.  DMs and @ messages can accumulate with alarming speed, as you are inundated with sales messages, thank you for following me tweets and other nonsense, which you have to sift through.  It all takes time.   You would always have to have at least one person watching the Twitter site.  The bigger your business, the more staff would have to be involved.  You would have to ask yourself if this would be cost effective.

You also need to bear in mind that, although Twitter has millions of subscribers, not all your customers will be amongst this number.  Many will not even be computer literate.  You will not be able to devote all your customer service effort to this one medium.  It can only be one of a number of alternatives for contact.  The question then is: Is the juice worth the squeeze?

Before you decide to adopt Twitter for customer service purposes, you need carefully to analyse your existing policies, service and resources.  You need to ensure that all your other options are handled to the complete satisfaction of your customers: that your customer service team is fully trained, effective and efficient.  Once you achieve this, then it may be worth looking at expanding your media to include Twitter – or maybe not.

About Elizabeth

Elizabeth Hendry is a Management Education and Development expert.  Her business, Worth OverDoing, is based in the South of England where she helps business owners with up to two hundred employees to double their profits.  She is especialy skillful at empowering her customers to optimise their marketing and customer service processes.  Go to her new blog http://worth-overdoing.com for some marking and business development information.

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3 Comments on Elizabeth Hendry: Should Your Business Use Twitter for Customer Service?

  1. sir, is there any way to tweet to customers faster.

  2. Gail Gardner @ GrowMap
    Twitter: GrowMap
    says:

    My most recent post offers strategies to manage Twitter accounts more effectively. You do not have to rely on DMs or even follow others to use Twitter as a contact method. All you have to do is use a combination of the @YourUserName search built into each Twitter account and a searches for your username and company name to monitor all Tweets to or about you.

    I wrote about the problems with email and voicemail and most other forms of communication. The assumption that whatever you sent was received is a major cause of misunderstandings and relationship breakdown. I have a post on my blog too old to put into CommentLuv on Why Closed Loop Communications are essential. I will put it in the regular URL field.

  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Deepak Gupta, Brady Media. Brady Media said: #mashable #mediapost Should Your Business Use Twitter for Customer Service?: Earlier posts on this blog have ent… http://bit.ly/gQW9mt […]

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