Conversation Agent - Valeria Maltoni - Customer Service on Twitter, Should You do it?

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Great post Valeria. As a Forrester analyst, I cover online customer service and have found the evolution of Twitter and customer service to be really interesting. We surveyed online retailers at the end of 2009 and 16% said they were using Twitter for customer support and another 25% plan to implement in 2010. My main advice to these ebusiness professionals is to clarify ownership. Twitter tends to sit in interactive marketing or public relations so the people managing Twitter accounts do not always have access to relevant customer service information and they aren't goaled on resolution. The stakes are alot higher doing customer on Twitter compared to other channels: the conversations are public and consumers have high expectations for a 2 hour reply (or faster). But done right, Twitter can be a very compelling online customer service channel.

Valeria, thoughtful post and comments. No question inability to control social media and Twitter is a huge issue for companies/brands. Balanced against that is trying to manage the out of control train when issues get away from you a la Motrin Moms, United Airlines breaks guitars, etc.

I like to look at social media as a communications tool. Sure everyone can use it, but it takes a communicator to do it well. (I sound like a broken record, I know) However with that said social media needs to make companies respond in real time.

My company cross-trained our staff on customer service in a program to put us in tune with the audience a few years back. That helped when I jumped into social media. After running the program for a year, we brought customer service into the loop and now they respond to all CS issues, but it is still a small fraction that is help-driven rather tan educational.

For companies, you also need to cater to customer expectations, offering times that you are online and responding. Otherwise you may have folks PO'd that you are not responding quickly enough.

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