An argument in favor of Twitter customer service
The post posits the dangers of establishing social media accounts for customer service. The drawback, it points out, is that engaging with users on Facebook and Twitter will only encourage them to air private complaints about the bank in a public space:Key Question: Do banks and credit unions really want to encourage people to gripe about their organization and its products in public forums?
Using social media as a customer service tool could be likened to putting a problem resolution desk in the middle of your town square. Set up the desk, hook up some loudspeakers, and broadcast every customer’s beef to everyone within earshot.
Do you really want the whole community to hear customer after customer grouse about problem after problem? No. That’s why banks put those small, private offices in the back of their branches — so prickly customer issues can be resolved quietly.
Riiiiight. Because if the banks don't participate on Twitter, no one will ever complain about their institution there. After all, don't people rush to join Twitter because they found out their bank was on the service?
Customer Service via Twitter
Of course not. People join Twitter for a variety of reasons, almost none of which are for the express purpose of following their most (and least) favorite brands. And if you believe that ignoring social channels will mean that all your customers will obediently take time out of their schedules to meet with you in that small, private office, I have three words for you: United Breaks Guitars.
The truth is that no one is going to agree to handle a complaint in your small, private office. Consumers voice complaints wherever they feel like it, and that includes Twitter, whether banks acknowledge it or not.
Conversation (even via DM) has value. The post goes on to detail that, since most banks are simply asking the customer to send information via DM or call in in order to resolve the issue, social media engagement adds an additional step to the customer service process and is therefore inefficient. But is Twitter "a redundant (and costly) layer in the customer service process"?
Efficiency vs engagement. While it's true that most customer service on social channels does lead to a separate, more private interaction, is that a reason to dismiss one of the most powerful outreach channels that can help to build customer loyalty? With banks on Twitter, it's true that there may be a few DMs (direct messages) exchanged, and yes, there could be a time lapse. In my past interactions with @comcastcares, this was the case: I'd make a public complaint; a Comcast team member would respond with a public @ message; I'd reply back publicly; she would ask for information via DM; we'd continue via email.
So is this level of "inefficiency" tolerable?
Depends on your point of view. The Financial Brand folks say no and propose live chat as a solution instead, since the issue can often be resolved in one sitting:
... live online chat is superior in almost every way to support through social channels. It’s faster, with response times averaging under a couple minutes for online chat vs. 2-48 hours on Twitter or Facebook. It’s more secure, so a wider range of transactions and inquiries can be accommodated. And most importantly, it results in a higher rate of “one touch” resolutions.
Put the customer first. That is all well and good, but that list of benefits are all benefits to the brand, not to the customer. Brands and banks care about the range of transactions that can be accommodated; customers only care about the ONE issue we're having right now.
Let the customer choose the space
If we are truly to look at the customer's point of view, we will consider swimming in their pool rather than making them come to ours. As I've said before, it's wise to go to social sites for customer interaction and marketing simply because this is where your customers prefer to interact. The reasoning is the same here: brands (and banks) should offer customer service on Twitter and Facebook because THAT IS WHERE THE CUSTOMERS ALREADY ARE.
Brands should be prepared to go to the customer's preferred channel rather than making the customer come to them. Don't make your corporate website (even with chat service) your only point of contact. Why not?
- Because users spend an average of 38 daily minutes on Facebook. How long do they spend daily on your corporate website?
- Over 100,000 Tweets go out per minute. How many of them are about your bank, whether you choose to perform customer service on Twitter or not?
- Because users care about themselves and their issues, not your cost efficiencies.
In short, no one is going to go to that small, private office to hash out their issues with you because, while it's convenient for the bank, it's not convenient for the customer. Organizations who really care about their customers will engage with them where they are: on social networks.