Research: Use of Twitter in Customer Service Increasing

When I’m asked to explain the allure of Twitter, and why someone would want to be a user, I always say the same thing: Twitter is exactly what you want it to be.

For individuals, that can be a lot of different things. But for businesses, over time many have  come to realize that what they want Twitter to be for them is a customer feedback tool.

That interest goes both ways, as new research by eMarketer shows that more Twitter users are wanting businesses to be there to answer their questions when tweeted at.

Users indicated that more responsive brands would benefit from greater loyalty and purchasing. Almost 60% of respondents said they would be more likely to follow a brand that answered them, and 64% said they would be more likely to make a purchase from that brand.

However getting to the point where businesses are freely interacting with customers can often require the business to undergo significant cultural changes. Employees whose job it is to interact with customer complaints and answer questions via e-mail or over the phone, must also be given the power to do so via platforms such as Twitter.

For an example, read through this post on the SmartBlog on Social Media about Delta Airlines’ approach to social media.

Delta trained all of its employees with an emphasis on “Twitter Watch.” It was the idea that any time a Twitter agent saw a chance for an airport employee to help out, they would. Responding to offline issues — such as an unmanned desk in an airport — by using Twitter made Delta more accountable to their customers both online and in real life.

This approach is paying off. For evidence of that, look no further than @DeltaAssist, with just under 25,000 followers. The profile’s bio invites feedback and questions: “We’re listening around the clock, 7 days a week. We try to answer all tweets but if you require a response pls visit www.delta.com/talktous or call 800-221-1212.”

This applies across all businesses, including news organizations. A news organization could use Twitter as a customer service tool for interacting with subscribers to the print and online products, or for people who use news apps. It has the potential to streamline at least a portion of the customer service process.

If you open your business up to taking questions and handling customer issues via Twitter, chances are that you will get customers wanting to interact with your business that way.

In order for that to happen, businesses must hand over the reigns to their customer support staff, and give them the ability to interact with customers as they always have, just in a new way.