I Want You To Help Me!

Many times these last couple of days, I’ve seen people scream out into the Twittersphere, begging for customer service, expecting to get their problems solved, when help is just a phone call away.

Twitter isn’t always going to help you.

Razor Wire

Sure, the best companies may recognize that twitter is a quick-response option to small customer service requests, though I usually only seen these type of responses: “Please call XXX-XXX-XXXX or Email customer service for quicker response.” Which is great, you’ve gotten a response, but you still have work to do. What would have happened if you would have done one of those things in the first place? Quicker Service.

What You See Is All There Is.

The other day, a friend sent me this string of twitter responses from a Portland Bar/Restaurant. The customer was unhappy they were not moved to a different table in the establishment and took to twitter to explain their beleaguered plight. What they didn’t do is look back through the establishment’s tweet-stream. I did, I went back 4 pages of tweets, which is Twitter time could be four minutes or four months. What I noticed was the establishment’s stream was a real live person, responding to complaints; some reasonable and some not and the responses were, at most, in the tone of “stop bothering me.” Which, we would all say is horrible customer service, but, it’s consistent. And, when you’re consistent, it is what it is. Looking back over the numerous pages of tweets, they never once tried to quiet the customer, they never tried to solve the issue, they just explained their reasons and moved on.

Just Because You Want Help On Twitter Doesn’t Mean You’re Going To Get It.

Empty hallway

In customer service land we want to meet the customer wherever they reside. In my experience; however, 140 characters is rarely enough to solve the problem. Which means you need three or four messages to convey one quick answer. That’s not efficient, nor timely. Twitter isn’t staffed 24-7 and if you expect it to be, you’re probably going to be disappointed. Twitter isn’t always the best way to get results, sometimes, it’s only a way to feel more frustrated.

So many articles tell companies they must be on twitter to provide service. Yet, the better way to provide customer service would be to empower the front-line staff with the abilities and tools necessary to make decisions which affect the customer.

The back-and-forth banter on Twitter means that someone may still miss your company’s response and think you’re not providing service. And sometimes, there’s no action which will please the customer, so you’ll end up in a reoccurring quagmire of apologies until the person tires out.

Standing Tall

In my experience, there are far more effective means of getting great customer service: Pick up the phone. Email the Customer Service Help Team. Contact someone in Management. Write a letter. Write a blog. Then, after you’ve exhausted all other options, then find their Twitter or Facebook streams, see if they respond there, if so, reach out, direct them to your previous efforts and then expect service. Otherwise, you might just be spinning your mouse wheel.

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