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Twitter Customer Service Should Not Be Part-Time

September 10, 2013

While some organizations have found success by providing customer service via social media – essentially integrating channels like Facebook and Twitter into the contact center mix – too many companies are finding out the hard way that social media support cannot be a part-time job. Users of social media, particularly those who use it on mobile devices, expect nearly instant responses, and they will quickly form a negative opinion of a company that doesn’t provide it: particularly a company whose services don’t stick to 9 to 5 schedules, such as airlines.


Unfortunately, many airlines still haven’t gotten the message. WaveMetrix recently examined 35 airline Twitter handles to investigate customer service provided over that channel on an hour-by-hour basis. Only a few of the accounts provided effective customer service, and these were the accounts that provided round-the-clock customer care, according to WaveMetrix’s Ed Bristow.

“Airlines that limit their opening hours on Twitter, even if they stay open seven days a week, tend to be unable to respond to more than 20 percent of all tweets in under an hour and keep nine percent of customers waiting more than six hours,” said Bristow.

You don’t need to be a customer service genius to figure out that travelers will give up on a channel that leaves some 80 percent of its customers in the lurch.

While airlines may not be able to move to a 24-7 model, the research round that simply extending hours can make a big difference, and that handles open until 7 or 8 pm answered 24 percent more customers in under an hour than those that shut down at 5 pm. 


image via shutterstock

So who came out on top of the heap when it came to Twitter-based customer service? That accolade goes to American Airlines, which the study found copes the best with volume, replying to a thousand more tweets than the nearest competitor and ensuring that no customers are kept waiting more than six hours. Delta’s dedicated @DeltaAssist account was also determined to be a winner thanks to its speed: the account replies to 70 percent of all tweets received in under an hour. It’s worth nothing that both of these accounts are staffed 24 hours per day, seven days a week.

The research notes that Twitter customer service should be an “all or nothing” channel. Either aim to respond to all queries at any time of day, or don’t offer Twitter support at all. Customers that receive responses to only some of their queries will write that company off as unreliable and indifferent.




Edited by Ryan Sartor

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