Just recently Salesforce.com announced that the popular Twitter service would be integrated to their CRM software. On the surface this allows their customer service department to monitor the constant stream of
Twitter messages (known informally as tweets) for mentions of displeasure with the company’s product(s).
There are several things wrong with using Twitter as a primary approach to improving customer service.
Mistake #1: Using Twitter to catch disgruntled customers encourages the cell phone model of only giving the best deals to those who gripe loudest
There’s a whole subset of consumers who are onto the model employed by the cell phone companies. The drill goes like this – at the end of a cellular contract some customers have wised up to the fact that there’s a customer retentions department that can offer all manner of promotions to entice a customer to stay.
The problem with the “retentions” approach is that it places all the customer service focus on the back end business of saving a customer relationship – and not on the front end of nurturing and growing that relationship.
If you’ve noticed, there’s an ever increasing stream of complaints from current cell phone customers that only new customers or those threatening to leave are offered the best deals.
That’s one hell of a way to promote high customer satisfaction – make customers threaten to quit before you reward them!
Mistake #2 – Fishing for Twitter complaints is time that could be better served improving the service in the first place
Spending time improving customer service so that there aren’t people complaining in the first place is a better use of your time.
Why only react when the problems reach “I’m going to tell everyone” proportion? Instead – focus on improving the customer experience from start to finish.
Here’s an idea (and one that I’ve used for the last 10 years).
Instead of laying back – waiting for customers to come to you with complaints – how about a proactive marketing approach that reaches out via emails, web seminars, and newsletters (I use constantcontact.com which charges only $25 per month for me to email over 2,000 customers).
Pushing out news and tips that helps customers work with your product fosters goodwill during the relationship – and I think is a much better (and more profitable) business model than trying to salvage a relationship by waiting for disgruntled tweets to appear.
Mistake #3 – Monitoring and reacting to Twitter complaints — only encourages more Twitter complaints
Some (but certainly not all) Twitter complainers, like children who learn that if they beg long (and loud) enough for a new toy they’ll get it, will eventually become an overwhelming resource hog.
Instead of fielding true complaints – your company could be lulled into being “gamed” by those Twitter users who figure out that if they complain long enough they’ll get your company’s equivalent of a free toy.
Twitter has a place in your customer service arsenal. In my experience it is no better tool than reading and responding to old fashioned complaint letters.
Twitter is also a noisy place — and it’s only going to get noisier and noisier.
Focus your primary customer service efforts on building bonds with your customers BEFORE they become disgruntled enough that they’re logging onto Twitter (or a personal blog or message board) and blast your company’s good name.
If you’re doing customer service the right way – you should not be providing customers with a reason to get onto a soap box in the first place.