Is social media confusing customer service?

10th Apr 2014

Major businesses are complaining that Twitter is causing confusion and being used unnecessarily for customer service, wasting businesses time by asking questions that could be answered quickly by looking on the website FAQ page. But we have to ask the important question; why are customers turning to twitter in the first place?

Users generally prefer a human touch when seeking customer service, so when faced with a lengthy phone-queue time and email responses, customers are choosing real-time channels they can articulate their questions in less than 140 characters. But the truth is, businesses are struggling to keep up with these rapidly changing customer service preferences and to manage the influx of questions and complaints they are receiving from social media sites, often leaving many questions unanswered and customers disgruntled.

Some companies however, are successfully embracing this new customer service channel, as it is reported that 30% of big brands now have customer service profiles on twitter. But what are they doing right and how are they achieving the status of a “socially devoted” brand? In order to be successful in social customer service it is suggested that companies have to answer at least 65% of the questions that are asked and customers expect their questions to be answered just as quickly as if they were on the phone.

The approach that many organisations are choosing to successfully provide customer service through social channels is to integrate them in to the contact centre. For businesses to use social media effectively, it must become an integral part of their customer service platform. An integrated contact platform could be used to manage social media comments and queries alongside other channels and to queue, prioritise and route these to the correctly skilled agent as part of the universal queue. Technology is used to automate processes and give agents an intelligent desktop which includes the script, knowledge and real time data on customers and live issues that they need in order to handle queries successfully.

Managing the customer experience is not just about listening to customers, it’s about managing and resolving their requests. If a resolution to their problem is not provided within 24 hours, then you can be sure that the online audience will hear about it. So, connecting the agent desktop in to the rest of the organisation and managing social media process requests, monitoring trouble tickets, linking to existing resource planning, inventory, ordering and CRM tools are essential parts of the socially enabled contact platform.

Businesses currently fall into three categories; those investing in tools and consultancy services; those piloting and testing the water with minimal experiments; and those watching and waiting who are often cynics. But, ignore it for much longer and your customers might be turning to competitors who provides a more consistent level of customer service and are embracing social communication. The customer has the power to dictate the way they would like to receive customer service and businesses need to find a way of adapting strategies and processes to embrace the change. We all well know…. “The customer is always right!”


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By Lloyd Buxton
16th Apr 2014 15:56

As you say Susannah, companies need to be answering questions on the customer’s channel of choice. In our recent Eptica Multichannel Customer Experience Study we surveyed 100 big brands on their responses on Twitter – and performance was patchy. While 76% were on Twitter, just 39% successfully answered a basic question tweeted to them – a worse response than email. More on the results and what it means for social media customer service at

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