Customer Services on Twitter

February 9, 2011

It seems that good old fashion customer service has gone completely downhill but can Twitter change all that.

In the olden days, way back in the 20th century, if you had a problem with a service or product you’d contact the supplier with a telephone call or letter. Either way someone would try to help and solve your issue.

Email then became a preferred option. This was good. You could fire off an email and someone out in the ether would answer it and deal with your issue.

Then came the mass migration of this type of “help” out to India. Cheap labour meant massively reduced tangible costs. I don’t think much thought went into the experience but that didn’t matter; the company was saving money. Don’t get me wrong, the Indian call centres did a superb job but it was the inflexible approach that caused consternation with many callers.

The internet helped many businesses to help. In fact so much so that many companies dispensed with a telephone service; or hid the Customer Service number so deep that you couldn’t find them and actually had a better chance of finding Wally!

Marketers also saw the benefit of interactive Customer Service. They created forms which simply fed databases with contact information. You may not have given your customer’s the service they expected but at least you could sell to them. Little wonder that this created more angst.

Twitter to the rescue

Here’s the interesting part. It seems that businesses might actually care more about their reputation than the service they give.

Twitter is public, very public. If you post about your experience and include a hash tag it seems someone responsible for the service gets in touch with you…and very quickly.

I’ve been trying to unsubscribe from a mailing list using the mechanism provided. I know who it’s from because I used specific addresses when signing up for various things on the internet.  This particular daily update was not what I expected but can I unsubscribe. It seems not.

I tweeted my frustrations and within 20 minutes I had an email address and was advised that someone would sort it out.

This is not just my experience. My sister-in-law had a huge problem with a delivery and tweeted. She got a reply and as a result was a satisfied customer.

Bold IS better

However you deal with customer service it’s my firm belief that you should make it as easy as possible. Not everyone is on Twitter so it’s not a total solution.

The approach I always prefer is human contact. I had a good look around and the reason I went with my current hosting provider TSO Host is because I called the big telephone number at the top of the website. The phone was answered and I spoke with a human being that answered my questions. I’ve had reason to call when there’s an issue and the phone is always picked up. This to me is an invaluable part of customer service.

I guess however you choose to deliver Customer Service make the experience personal and you’ll have a much better business.