One of the way in which Twitter has changed the landscape for business is Customer Service. Savvy customers are using social media as a new channel to express their opinion and feelings about brands, products and services. And they expect brands to be responsive.  The payback  for providing prompt customer service on social networks can be significant. As an example, consider these tweets in the context of JetBlue airline:

This is first of a series of posts which brings together the best ideas and tips about customer service on Twitter. Drawing from popular blog posts, social media experts, media articles and observations from case studies, I have gathered some information that can be helpful to all those who are learning how to use Twitter as a new Customer Service channel.

Let’s start with what some of the thought leaders have to say about reaching out to customers on Twitter.
Jeremiah Owyang, Altimeter Group (also see Jeremiah’s thoughts on social support here and here).

The most successful brands have very few marketing-focused tweets but instead answer customer questions, inform customers of news or company deals, reach out to customers, or provide followers with insight into the brand.

Diane Clarkson, Forrester analyst, writes:

If customers are talking about support and service issues on Twitter, companies that genuinely seek to engage must participate in these conversations with meaningful customer service.

Start with these questions

Many brands struggle with strategy, planning and preparation for dealing with the flood of conversations on Twitter.  Here are some questions to help you get started.

  • What is the strategy? Are executives on board? Is their clear ownership?
  • What are the success factors? How do you measure say customer satisfaction?
  • Does it matter if you are B2B or B2C? big or small?
  • What are the guidelines which should be followed?
  • What has worked? what are the challenges (e.g. large volumes of conversations)?
  • What tools should be used? Why?
  • What is the cost associated with it? Is there an ROI?
  • How will you capture customer intelligence?
  • What does it mean for traditional CRM?

In the upcoming posts I’ll discuss and address these questions.

Let’s take a look at what the blogs and media have to say about this. Here’s advice from Mashable on Customer Service via Twitter:

Step 1. Understand why Twitter is an ideal customer service platform
Step 2. Track the ENTIRE conversation around your brand
Step 3. Make customers aware of your presence
Step 4. Respond quickly and transparently
Step 5. Be engaged in the conversations
Step 6. Be authentic

For another perspective, check out this recent USA Today article which talks about the instant gratification trap, expectations and limitations of Twitter.

To see a few examples and a bit of history, see this Business Week article which profiled some of the early Twitter adopters such as GM and JetBlue. Interestingly, JetBlue began to monitor and use social media as a way to reach out to customers directly in the aftermath of its highly publicized February 2007 flight delays. For a more current version, refer to Mashable’s list of “Best Brands on Twitter”.

Other References:
Here are some of the articles which talk about Twitter and Customer service:

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