Time magazine just published a new study focused on how various companies, particularly retailers, are using Twitter to offer a new customer service channel. The results are interesting because they demonstrate that while some organisations are really ahead of the curve and adopting this as a standard way of relating to customers, some are really struggling to make it work.
The study found that only 44% of questions posed to 25 different US-based retailers were answered within 24 hours, so Twitter can be used, but it still cannot be relied on if you need help fast. Some retailers don’t answer questions at all and some have a response time of less than one hour.
The most advanced Twitter user found in this study was SouthWest Airlines, specifically because they have blended their marketing function with customer service. They appreciate that every time a customer question is asked and then answered by their team, the whole online community is watching and can see the answers being published – so it is an enormous opportunity to promote the company as well as engage in dialogue with customers.
I think that social media engagement will go much further in the near future, with sales, marketing, and operations all involved in synchonising their efforts with the customer service team. Not everyone has seen this yet – as the study in Time suggests – but I predict that it will be normal as soon as next year.
Photo by BriYYZ licensed under Creative Commons.