When did Twitter become your live chat, phone and web support service? #sofresh

One of the comments I heard from numerous companies on panels and in the hallways is how they are using Twitter as a live customer service channel.  Word of mouth is a large driver in adoption of your product or services, and having a positive spin is important.  Bulletin boards have been around for years and blog postings soon followed.

Many of these enterprises never invested the time or staff to search the web and respond to postings that are static and will be there forever, as compared to these short time postings found in Twitter.

What I am seeing is that customers may now complain loudly in Twitter to their few hundred followers, get a tweet reply per chance from the vendor, and be directed to an email address or direct tweet conversation.

  • What happened to customers going to the website and clicking a link for live chat?
  • What happened to quick customer service on the phone lines?
  • Being able to talk to a live person in a short time by dialing the phone?
  • Is the live social media stream more important than the bigger customer base?

I disagree with all of that.  Social media is an additional solution to the customer service and web support.  I know reaching out to where the user may be is important.  Facebook is a large base, with the fan page growth and sharing.  Twitter has sharing, but relies on link tracking more than anything.  But who clicked the link?  Who was the primary sharing source?  Were the amount of followers they have the real reason your message got out?

Staff from all the panel members is dedicated to monitoring, answering, responding, watching and reporting.  AT&T mentioned they found about 11k actionable tweets from the ~100k (forgot exact number) out there.  None addressed why these people were not doing this same function on their website or phone lines.  Is there no community they have built for their customers to have accounts linked so easily solve problems, route issues and communicate quickly?

I don’t think the results they are finding just in a few social media sites, with dedicating teams or people, is the proper focus they made it sound.  I heard how they funnel things to R&D, customer support and even promotions.  Does this drive traffic page to their website? Do they capture data on who these Twitter users are in relation to their system?  Can they convert a username on Facebook or Twitter to an account to fix or up sell services?

Stop thinking of these social media services as a solution and more of an aggregated draw of traffic to your true core services and a new way to get them engaged.