So was this the greatest customer service of all time? A "twitacle"? Or just a PR stunt designed to leverage Shankman’s 100,000+ Twitter followers?
It’s hard to say. But here’s an even better question: Why is it that in most cases, it’s hard to get any customer service at all - whether at a restaurant or your local Internet service provider? According to a study by mystery shopping service STELLAService, the average response over Twitter isn’t that sparkling either; only 40 percent of customer service complaints delivered this way are answered within 24 hours. But when companies do respond, they tend to do so in a big way. Here’s why. (Interested in harnessing the power of Twitter? Get some ideas in How to Use Twitter to Land a Tech Job.)
The Big PRCompanies with smart social networking strategies know that when customers ask for help, others may be listening. Great customer service gets talked about, and this can lead to more sales and more attention. Twitter is one of the most viral platforms around, which means that one happy little customer can occasionally turn into a big story. That means that when companies hit it right on Twitter, a little effort can go a long way in terms of marketing a brand.
It works the other way, too. Complaints and customer service requests that are left unaddressed can also get attention - only it’s generally not the kind companies want. And given the opportunity to really speak their mind, customers will often do just that. In other words, customer service can be a great way for companies to make a positive impression on Twitter - and hopefully keep negative comments at bay. (Learn more about how companies use social media in Jedi Strategies for Social Media Management.)
Less Red TapeWith increasing customer service automation and outsourcing, there are literally legions of stories about customers who just couldn’t connect with a company's customer service - or were blown away by the lack of service they got when they did. But what’s interesting is that despite company cutbacks in many customer service areas, an increasing number of companies are hiring a social media team. According to socialmediaexaminer.com, 93 percent of marketers use social media for business. That often means a dedicated team of professionals monitoring what customers say on social media, including Twitter.
Better AccessibilityBetter access to customer service is great news for the end user, who is now empowered to liaise with brands directly (and openly), demanding better service and products. And when I say directly, I mean that Twitter tends to be much more direct than other social media channels. Stories about service through Comcast’s social media channel, @ComcastCares, for example, are legion. That’s because this company - and other corporate social media success stories - use sophisticated CRM software to monitor Tweets and other social media mentions. Then they follow up. And the best companies do it almost instantly. (Read more about CRM in CRM Meets Social Media.)
It’s a far cry from the long and often grueling process of making your way through to a real, live representative in a typical customer service call. So maybe when a company hops to and delivers great service it isn’t a twitacle at all; it's just the power of better technology.