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How 12 companies built trust using Twitter for customer service

Posted on June 25, 2012 by Rob Petersen

 

 

It takes 2X as much to get a new customer as it costs to keep an existing one. Today…

  • 71% of customers go online first when they have a problem with a product or a service (source: TNS).
  • 21% more sales result to companies that use social media to address consumer complaints (versus 11% for traditional methods like email and phone) and consumers then tell 3X as many friends about their positive experiences (source: American Express)

You can do the math but could social media be better at building trust? Here’s what 12 companies learned using Twitter for customer service.

  1. @AJBomber: Restaurant owner, Joe Sorge, uses Twitter for outreach and as an extra pair of eyes and ears to listen and respond to customers. As a results, 75% of customers come from Twitter; weekly sales increased +60% within a year and, today, AJBombers has 19,910 followers. Not bad for a restaurant with two locations in Wisconsin.
  2. @AskCiti: Citibank uses this Twitter handle to send a link via Twitter direct message to the customer to start a live chat. Compared to navigating 800 number callback from the back of a credit card to a live operator where “the interactions were more phone tag. We’re getting in touch with the customer the way they want. It’s something that’s easier and fits the customer’s style,” say Frank Eliason, SVP of Social Media. (8.088 followers)
  3. @AmericanExpress: American Express found consumers who begin a customer service dialogue through Twitter “are willing to pay a 21 percent premium at companies that provide great service. Ultimately, getting a service right with these social media savvy consumers can help a business grow,” says Jim Bush, an AmEx EVP.
  4. @AskHalifaxBank: With no response from other channels, an angry customer resorted to Twitter:  “Good LORD @askhalifaxbank how can 1 company make SUCH a mess of Isa transfers? I’m on hours of phonecalls, branch visits & still not sorted.” She got a response within minutes her complaint had been forwarded and return tweet: “If we can help with anything in future, feel free to tweet.” She says she would use Twitter again.
  5. @ClevelandClinic: The Cleveland Clinic uses Twitter to dispense health advice to over 52,000 followers. In return, patients are better about keeping their appointments with physicians and the Cleveland Clinic has a noticeable increase in traffic to their website.
  6. @FirstDirectHelp: First Direct Bank has “best practices” for every tweet they receive. “We aim to respond to a tweet within an hour and whilst it’s difficult to put a figure on it, at the moment it has definitely improved the time to resolution, which was already good,” says a spokesperson
  7. @HRBlockAnswers: During tax season, a long response time can mean a lost customer. For example, @r_wett tweeted “HR block, how is it that the FREE SC e-flie [sic] costs me $30 to file?” A short seven minutes later, @HRBlockAnswers replied, “@r_wett Through the HRBlock website, Federal returns can be completed for Free. Fees apply for states. In this case, the exchange and the quality of the dialogue secured a new customer.
  8. @LAFitnessUKHelp: When a frustrated customer wanted to know the LA Fitness’s cancellation policy, he spent 15 minutes on hold and hung us. Instead, he asked on Twitter, and his tweet was answered within four minutes. He stayed a member.
  9. @NetSolCares: When a customer “eeded to update a client’s website which is hosted on Network Solutions. we are based in the UK. apparently, due to some DDOS attacks some IPs (mostly from overseas) have been blocked,” she “twittered (tweeted?) about the connection issues asking if anyone else was having the same problem. i was hoping to just get some additional information on what the problem may be, instead, i got a response from NetSol support within the hour.” Her Tweet to Gerry was followed up by an email and phone call from Sam who fixed the problem within minutes.  “I won’t discuss whether i feel NetSol is a good host provider or not, but i will say i was incredibly impressed by their customer service, and i found out just how useful a simple tweet could be.”
  10. @SouthwestAirlines: An angry customer tweets a complaint about her flight that “Southwest=Suckage.”  She gets another tweet back and then another tweet days later ask how her return flight was. “I have to say that my Southwest Twitter experience wasn’t just a single fire and forget incident as they twittered back again to check up on me,” she says.
  11. @Starbucks: To listen to customers and help with content management, Starbucks tweets: “Hello Twitterville. I posted some news stories last week. Is that interesting for you. I’m here for you, so let me know what you want to see.” Couldn’t any brand benefit if they followed this tweeting practice?
  12. @TwelpForce: Best Buy gives employees the opportunity to help consumers on Twitter voluntarily and the community grows to 2,200 employees within 3 months. They respond to over 13,000 customers on Twitter answering 100-125 questions, concerns, and opinions every day. The Twitter feed @twelpforce now counts over 44,000 followers and the number of questions averages 100-125 per day. Someone I know was waiting on line at the Best Buy Help Desk and had her issue resolved faster on @TwelpForce than in store.

Customer service “is not about being perfect, it’s about the response” said Deborah Mitchell, a clinical associate professor of marketing at Ohio State University, in an interview with Smartmoney.com. “People like to feel like the company was proactive in responding, and bent over backwards to fix it.”

What do these lessons from 12 companies teach you?

 

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