Twitter, the Ultimate B2C Support Platform

Twitter is probably one of the more polarizing social networks out there. Despite how long it’s been around, Twitter still has so much untapped potential.

Though projects like the revamped Twitter homepage, Safety Center and Project Lighting have been in the works, things are still moving fairly slow. But there’s a number of reasons for this – one, in particular, is that the executive team has been having quite a number of issues internally.

In June, Dick Costolo stepped down from his position as CEO and had Jack Dorsey, one of the site’s original co-founders, take over the reins as the interim CEO.. while still serving as Square’s CEO and, as of late, filing a not-so confidential IPO for the payment company. Back in May, Twitter had their CFO, Anthony Noto, take charge of all things marketing while they continue their search for a CMO / Head of Marketing.

Ever since the dawn of TweetDeck (before Twitter acquired it from Iain Dodworth), independent developers have been making all sorts of different third-party apps for Twitter. A sample of some of these apps can be found on Product Hunt, but standout apps include: Flutter, Social Hunt, Buffer and most recently, Storyline (posted by Mark Cuban). All of these apps (and more) are taking advantage of all that Twitter can offer but doesn’t.

As a rabid Twitter user, one of the non-features that continues to stand out to me most is customer service – it’s the shiniest diamond in the rough.

The Internet has given unsatisfied folks everywhere countless ways to voice their opinions. Occasionally, a customer complaint video on YouTube will go viral, but this has happened less and less as YouTube continues to get diluted with nearly 60 hours of video being uploaded every minute.

Sometimes Facebook posts get attention from the media about shopping experiences gone wrong, but you would need to get a ton of shares and likes to do so. Comments are usually the best way to get a brand’s attention on Facebook, but even then, back-and-forth conversations start getting messy, especially since you can’t respond directly from notifications- unlike Twitter.

And that’s what makes Twitter such a wonderful tool for customer service.

This isn’t a secret at all. Harvard Business Review, The Guardian, Quartz and many other publications have written about how users should be Tweeting companies for better service and how companies should be taking advantage of Twitter as an inexpensive support ticket alternative.

Graph courtesy of HBR.
Graph courtesy of Harvard Business Review.

This blog post, in particular, was inspired by two fantastic experiences I had with Airbnb and Weave.

After taking a survey about Airbnb and filling out some demographic information, I was a bit irked that I couldn’t put down multiple options for race (I’m half Japanese and German). Here’s how the conversation went:

airbnb1

airbnb2

I won’t cover up the fact that I wasn’t the nicest customer when I first tweeted at Airbnb. But you know what? Whoever handles customer inquiries and complaints does a marvelous job. Even if the feedback I provided isn’t applied in the next survey, at least for this time being, it’s nice to know that I was heard (though I hope my feedback is used).

Another example is when a particular feature in the Weave app wasn’t working for me.

weave1

weave2

This exchange was by far one of the most memorable I’ve had with a company. The person on the other side, tweeting on behalf of Weave, truly cared about both the product and the user, and wanted to do his or her best in helping me out.

At this point in the post, I probably have some skeptics. And if you’re doubting some of my ideas right now, I can’t blame you because there’s one important detail I’ve left out – Zendesk.

Like I’ve said before, using Twitter for service tickets is not a new idea, and Zendesk saw this potential a very long time ago – in fact, about five years ago.

According to this press release, the Zendesk-Twitter collaboration lets users…

– Turn a tweet into a new Zendesk ticket — a twicket — with one click
– Record threaded Twitter conversations with full audit trail
– Combine public and private dialog while maintaining confidentiality
– Switch a Twitter conversation into an email conversation
– Seamlessly integrate with social media monitoring tools such as HootSuite, TweetDeck, Twitter.com, and the Twitter iPhone and Android apps.

Being completely honest, I’ve never been on support-side when using “twickets.” I’ve contacted Twitter before for support issues within the past five years and I can’t say that I had the best experience (but don’t take my word on this – it was a while ago).

But regardless of whether or not companies use Zendesk’s Twitter integration feature for service tickets, there are still many reasons that Twitter works just fine as a standalone service app.

Email – the one digital creation that we still can’t use masterfully. Why do we hate email so much? Why do emails get so messy?

It’s the reason why users like using Twitter to voice concerns. They don’t have to go to their primary email provider, hit compose, figure out who to send the email to, write the email, then send the email. Humans like simple things. Twitter makes service requests for users so much simpler and quicker. Compose, write, send – there’s no guesswork.

Of course, when questions and requests take up more than 140 characters, then it’s possible for DMs to come into play, but that then adds another layer of communication, which isn’t advised.

With all this being said… what can be done to bolster Twitter as a Service?

1. Offer different features as part of Twitter for Business. Recommend and reserve business/brand hashtags with “Help” at the end of their handles, like Airbnb does already (and many other companies). Add the ability to organize, tag and prioritize customer service-related Tweets in a different portal.

2. Make prices competitive to those of Zendesk. I’ll be honest – Zendesk already has really great pricing options, but when prices are similar enough, oftentimes mere preference is what can make or break a sale.

3. Twitter loves data – after all, the platform allows users a glimpse into their Twitter analytics for free (with the hope that they buy ads from Twitter, of course). Why not make a separate data page for customer service – showcasing which brands actively serve customers using Twitter, how many times a day brands respond to users, keeping track of each user’s service requests, etc. This could be a fun project for Twitter, but would take many, many hours to figure out how to collect this data (if it’s even possible at this time).

It should be said that Twitter uses Zendesk for its service tickets, so I highly doubt any of these ideas will be put into place any time soon. Not to mention, with Twitter Flight in the next couple of months, I’m sure Twitter has many of its own announcements to make.

Unless, that is, Kim Kardashian recommends this blog post to Jack Dorsey.

kimk
Courtesy of Business Insider.
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