I recently realised that this is a question that all my clients raise when they begin engaging with their customers through social media.
It was a question I was starting to dread because I wasn’t sure that I had a response.
What they mean is: “If we start to provide customer service on Twitter, won’t everyone start using it and then it will become just another customer service route, the same as any other?”
And what they are really asking is: “Aren’t we just spending a lot of time and effort for something that we are offering already, just in another place?”
It’s a fair point, which is why I’ve been reluctant to address this question head on until now…
What will happen
Many people see Twitter as a fast route to resolution. It feels personal and dedicated in terms of the service that users receive.
Financial service brands that understand this and offer this type of service through Twitter reap huge benefits in terms of positive sentiment and advocacy.
But the people that use Twitter for customer service are still early adopters (only 1 in ten people in the UK use Twitter at the moment*). The majority of complaints and queries still go through the traditional channels of telephone and email.
This will inevitably change over time. More people will start to use Twitter, more banks will start to offer customer service via this route and more customers will recognise that you can get your problem resolved quicker than via the call centre (no more
sitting on hold for hours!)
As the volume of online queries increases and the initiative scales, Twitter becomes just another touch point, no different to the call centre.
When Twitter customer service becomes business as usual, will my complaint still be dealt with more quickly and is it more likely to be resolved?
I think possibly not – not if brands continue to place the same value on customer service that they do currently.
What you need to do
The rise of social media has meant that customer service has already undergone some scrutiny within most financial service companies. Customers have a voice now and banks face a very public backlash if they don’t service their customers well.
In fact this has been the driver for many banks to look at Twitter as a customer service medium in the first place, the argument being that if users are complaining online, it is better to engage and help them than leave them angry and vociferous.
But what has happened in many cases is that banks have seen this as the end point, they don’t ask, “what next?”. Well guess what? Setting up a customer service account on Twitter is not the end, it’s just the beginning…
Banks need to continue this journey by undertaking a sustained re-evaluation of the role of customer service, not just in social media but in the business as a whole.
At the moment people are complaining on social media because they get better service than they do on existing channels. Making the service they get on social media the same as the other channels is not a long-term solution!
The rise of social media has led to demands for better customer service and businesses have to adjust to this and meet this demand across all channels.
Customer service 2.0 requires more respect for and better relationships with customers, better connectivity (with customers and internal staff) and a commitment to feed learnings back to the wider business to provide genuine improvements to their products
Banks should also have an eye to the future to see how they can evolve and enhance their service offerings in the future, for example,
_ How can they use the information that they have to help users, e.g. by using monitoring to anticipate user problems and resolve them proactively
_ How can they blend their engagement to offer a more holistic experience for customers, e.g. so that they offer more than customer service, but also garner ideas and opinions, reward loyalty and provide genuinely helpful tools and content
Banks must recognise that the quality and speed of their response is the keystone of their entire customer service offering and try and bring the value that they currently provide in Twitter to their other channels.
That way, when your customers do complain, the experience will be great regardless of where they choose to do it. Hell, you may even find that they don’t have anything to complain about in the first place.