Mark Shaw is CEO of @EngagementIndex, the first customer care score for businesses on Twitter. He has approximately 16,000 Twitter followers and is a prominent media presence, speaker, and thought leader on the topic of Twitter.
Twitter Is Engagement
Good customer service is about listening to the needs of your customers. Listening to their ideas, their concerns, their opinions. Being accessible to them, talking to them and supporting them when they have issues.
I have always argued that Twitter is about engagement. Socializing with customers is important—but I think it should include a customer service element.
For example, a Twitter user was standing on the train platform waiting for her train to take her to an interview. She tweeted , “Waiting for... train to take me to my interview site.” The train company picked up on this tweet and tweeted her a message “No delays expected with your train, we will get you to your destination on time.” Then, “Good luck with your interview you will be fine.” This is chitchat with a customer service element. In two words: Social Support.
Engaging with your customers is good customer service, whether it is offering your expertise, solving their problems or addressing their concerns. It is all engagement and in line with good Twitter usage— more importantly, it is good customer service that adds value to your business.
Twitter is real time. Most consumers love the idea of tweeting a concern, might even rant or complain as a call for help— to their bank, a retailer, or professional service provider. It’s better than spending huge amounts of valuable time listening to automated recordings, getting lost in the phone menu, or being passed to an indifferent call center operator . Twitter users are not unreasonable people and understand that 140 characters does not always allow for problem solving— but it does allow for recognition of their problem and a way to get their experience forwarded to the right person..
Don’t Just Promote, and Don't Just Socialize
Rather than using Twitter just to broadcast or promote your brand, it's a much better idea to make Twitter a customer service touchpoint. As a customer service tool, it will help you be engaging with your existing customers, thus building community with advocates who will help you grow your brand.
It’s just as damaging to go in the unproductive direction of setting up a community entirely based on personal interactions that have nothing to do with your brand. You may be building a community, but it won’t be of any value to your business.
It's important to find a balance of productive, capable support in a friendly, sociable context. This is an art as well as a science, and will require a whole new kind of customer representative. These frontline roles will become increasingly important as social networks grow and customer service moves to new venues.
Customer Service Beats Price
Customer service is a concept all professionals can understand, but it is also one that the consumer appreciates. Indeed, the consumer will often set aside cost consideration for the benefit of an excellent customer service experience.
A Great "Here & Now" Touchpoint
The customer service touchpoint will often rest on the “here & now” element, and Twitter is a real-time tool. “Here & now” doesn’t necessarily mean that a problem will be solved immediately; it does mean someone is listening and is dealing with a concern and will pass it to the right person! As a real-time tool it is the perfect adjunct to customer service, delivering satisfaction, recognition, listening, accessibility, support, and community building.