How Twitter Will Ruin Customer Service

twitter customer service

Photo: Flickr Brood_wich

A company’s ability to use Twitter in a way that benefits customers has a limit.Sure, Twitter allows for instant communication, but what kind of conversation can a customer service rep actually have when limited to 160-character blurbs?

Tweeting complaints to companies is not an effective way for consumers to resolve their problems. What it does do is direct immediate negative attention toward companies, which typically results in quick, unhelpful responses.

So sure, consumers might hear back immediately regarding a complaint, but they usually don’t get any closer to resolving the problem.

The inspiration behind my hypothesis? A colleague’s recent encounter with a certain search engine mogul’s customer service team. Keep in mind that we’re talking about a technological behemoth. The search engine made a mistake that adversely affected his company’s SEO, and he wanted the action reversed as soon as possible. After several attempts at contacting the company to get the issue resolved, he released the following tweet:

“Xbusiness customer service isn’t just horribly bad, it is virtually non-existent. @Xbusiness”

followed shortly by:

“Messed up that I can’t get a Xbusiness employee on the phone after 55min on hold, but I can get a Twitter response in less than 2 minutes.”

Apparently the employee who was managing the company’s Twitter feed responded just minutes after my colleague’s virtual complaint. Because the Tweeter wasn’t able to solve the problem, the response only exacerbated his frustrations with the company.

I obviously can’t attest to the company’s side of the story, but it seems to me that they need fewer employees Tweeting and more on the phone to actually help their clients. So then why do companies continue to invest so much time, effort and money into updating Twitter accounts dozens times per day when, in reality, their customers struggle to make contact?

Because Twitter is sexy.

It’s fast, it’s cheap, and it’s easy. Twitter allows companies to pursue another avenue of inexpensive, invasive marketing, but that doesn’t make it an efficient resource for clients.

In a world where we’re all more connected to the Nth degree technologically, we couldn’t be more detached literally. Social media has only been widely popular for about a decade, and already people have forgotten just how efficient and effective having an actual conversation can be. We’re all so concerned with living in a fast-paced society that we’ve gotten caught up in the digitization of everything and forgotten the benefits of having an actual conversation.

This attitude makes it more difficult for businesses to serve their customers. Most major pizza chains allow customers to order online. You probably think it’s easier or more convenient than ordering over the phone, but I’ll tell you from personal experience that it takes at least twice as long.

The emphasis put on lead conversion rates suggests that the goal behind many of today’s business models focuses on the quantity of sales rather than quality.

Online banking also offers a seemingly infinite number of consumer benefits, but have you ever used an online platform to fix a problem with a bank account? It’s a waste of time. Physically going to the bank and discussing the situation seems like such a pain, but, in reality, the problem can be resolved much more quickly.

There are two key lessons to be learned from Twitter customer service approaches.

  1. Companies: Quit wasting your time bugging your customers via Twitter and actually help them when they need it.
  2. Consumers: Don’t expect any of your problems to be solved just because you Tweet a complaint to whatever company is causing you stress. Save yourself time by taking a trip or picking up the phone.

Ok, so Twitter itself probably won’t be the demise of customer service as we know it, but our attitude toward it and our use of it certainly might be. We shouldn’t evolve past the point of appreciating the benefits of having an actual conversation with those we are trying to help, nor with those who are trying to help us.

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