How Twitter data can play a role in customer service

By @jefflesser

Anyone who’s spent 30 minutes on hold while trying to reach a company for customer service has thought “there must be a better way.” Many people who shared this sentiment then turned to Twitter for that better experience. According to McKinsey & Company (@McKinsey), evidence of this trend can be found in the fact that the volume of Tweets targeted at brands and their Twitter service handles has grown 2.5x in the past two years.

The conversational, public, real-time and distributed nature of Twitter enables users to find and engage directly with brands. As a result, it’s only natural that Twitter is the place where users go to get customer service from the companies they have issues with. Brands that opt not to engage in customer service on Twitter risk a PR crisis, but brands that choose to excel have the opportunity to transform their relationship with the customer, and their business.

An article in the Harvard Business Journal, “Your Company Should Be Helping Customers on Social,” focuses on how brands can use Twitter to assist with customer needs, specifically the role Twitter data can play in improving their ability to provide great service. The article includes the following chart indicating the volume of Tweets from customers directly to brands’ Twitter service handles has grown over 50% in every vertical analyzed, and more than 100% growth in some cases.

How Twitter data can play a role in customer service

According to McKinsey’s analysis, 30% of social media users prefer customer service via social media over traditional customer service call centers. Based on these stats, it’s no wonder that brands are eager to understand how they can capitalize on this preference to improve their service and increase their ROI via social customer service.

McKinsey proposes that companies providing the best customer service on Twitter are doubling down on the following two key areas:

  1. Leveraging Twitter data for relevance
  2. Focusing on complete customer care

McKinsey states that to increase relevance brands should integrate social data into existing CRM systems. While that sounds simple, linking social media accounts with internal account numbers and customer IDs isn’t straightforward. The article highlights a few examples of how some of the best companies are developing creative ways to incentivize customers to opt-in to link their social handles. Some of these include social opt-ins to match a customer’s ID and Twitter handle and encouraging customers to DM their account number so the company can link their social handle to their account. But simply tying account information and social accounts isn’t enough. The most successful social interactions are customized and personal, so having the right information available makes it possible to provide the best customer service.

The next step is understanding, “how can I use this data to provide better customer service?” That is where the second key focus area of companies providing excellent social media customer service comes into play: focusing on complete customer care. Many companies engaging in social customer service are looking at this concept as more than just a way to solve customer issues. They see this as an opportunity to directly engage customer and provide value. Companies are finding that in addition to issue resolution, they are able to provide tailored recommendations. The article sites that nearly 40% of customer Tweets never get a response from the company as highlighted in the chart below:

How Twitter data can play a role in customer service

Companies that invest in customer service on Twitter have found that resolving issues via Twitter:

  • costs one-sixth as much as call centers
  • can lead to over 95% of issues being resolved in channel
  • can achieve a customer satisfaction rate of over 90%

The key here is focus. Focusing on improving metrics that are important to customer service including first response time, time to resolution, in-channel resolution and customer satisfaction.

Brands developing and implementing customer service practices via social are reducing the cost of their interactions, maximizing their customer satisfaction and increasing their customer understanding, all while improving brand reputation and sales.