Turning Twitter into a customer service tool

Many times, a company will use Twitter to either broadcast, sell or promote a product or service, or turn it into a "personal chitchat" outlet with mundane updates that are of no value to the consumer, Business2Community reports.

Many times, a company will use Twitter to either broadcast, sell or promote a product or service, or turn it into a "personal chitchat" outlet with mundane updates that are of no value to the consumer, Business2Community reports.

This is a common mistake for companies trying to proactively benefit from a social media presence. People who follow a business do so mainly because of Twitter's realtime aspect.

"Most consumers love the idea of tweeting a concern, or rant or idea or complaint or call for help, to their bank, or their supplier or retailer or professional service provider," the news source notes.

Turning Twitter into a customer service tool may be a worthwhile move for a business that wants to engage with existing customers and build a "community of advocates" that will recommend the brand to others.

For example, The Associated Press reports that JetBlue utilizes the social platform to respond to customer complaints. In a recent scenario customers were tweeting about a crowded gate that was manned by only agent. The airline's social media team sprung into action and contacted airport staff, asking if there were any other agents available to help.

"It's more of an information booth than a traditional customer service channel,"  Morgan Johnston, JetBlue's social media strategist, told the media outlet.

Fliers also use it to request time-sensitive information such as connecting flights or gate numbers, which JetBlue attempts to respond to "within a few minutes."

Another example is Citibank, which makes a point to try and respond to customer inquiries within an hour. Also, representatives send customers a link to a separate private page on the bank's website if they need to exchange personal information to resolve an issue.

The main idea is that customers don't necessarily view Twitter's 140-character box as an outlet to immediate problem solving, but rather it acts as a way to vent concerns and frustrations or give praise, knowing (or assuming) that there's an actual person on the other end who will read and acknowledge the user.

Business2Commuinity cites the "here and now" mantra, pointing out "the here and now principle should not be interpreted to mean 'immediate problem solving' and nor are the users of Twitter so ignorant or expecting to assume it is the problem solver, but (it) ... should be more interpreted to mean someone is listening, has accepted, is dealing with my concern right now and will pass it to the right person/department."