By now, it’s old news that lots of businesses (like @jetblue or @starbucks) use Twitter to monitor what the Internet is saying about them in real time, and, where possible, respond to people’s questions. But as Twitter keeps growing, how do companies transition their twitter-based customer service from an ad hoc thing to a robust, full-fledged customer-facing experience?
Enter Salesforce.com (CRM). At a Salesforce meetup in New York this morning, CEO Marc Benioff introduced “Salesforce for Twitter,” marrying Salesforce’s customer care software with the 140 character tweet.
Here’s how is works: Salesforce plugs in to the Twitter API, and customer care reps can start Twitter searches from within Salesforce’s service, bypassing search.twitter.com. If a company discovers someone tweeting about them (good or bad), a button click can import the entire Twitter thread into Salesforce’s software.
From there, it’s almost the same as if the Twitter user called in on a 1-800 number. A PC user complaining about a faulty graphics card on Twitter can be cross-referenced against similar reports that originate from traditional customer care lines, and if a workaround exists a company can tweet back with a tinyurl (or whatever) link to the solution.
The advantages are obvious: Beyond better customer care, Salesforce’s approach is scalable as Twitter continues to grow. With multiple designated Twitter repliers at a company, it’s easy for customer care managers to track who on their team is answering how many Twitter questions and how helpful individual staff are being.
We like this idea so much, we fear it may be too successful. It’s one thing to answer a Twitter-user who’s complaining as an isolated example of great customer care. But do companies really want to encourage their customers to grouse in public on Twitter?