Don’t Use Twitter for Customer Service Unless…

If you rush to use Twitter for Customer Service, you will fail.

Twitter is not integrated with enterprise applications.

The lack of out-of-the-box integration capabilities in Twitter mean it lacks the ability to transfer information in either direction.  It does not capture the Twitter interaction record, as you would a chat interaction or email thread, and thus it cannot become part of the record.

Twitter does not allow you to build a deep customer experience.

If you deliver coherent customer experiences you need to provide a similar response to the same question across all channels.  You can use SLAs to determine which channels will cover which interaction.  Alas, the broad availability of Twitter means you cannot highlight to clients which interactions can and cannot be conducted over the channel.  Nor can you control at which point in the process Twitter can be useful, as you would with chat or email by providing a link only at a specific time.

Twitter will force you to push customers to another channel to finish or continue an interaction, and destroy your seamless, integrated Customer Experience.

These problems can all be worked out through customized development and taking the time to think what you want to do, how you want to do it, and why you want to do it.  It is all spelled out in your customer experience strategy.

You do want to use Twitter to enhance your Customer Experience – right?

12 Replies to “Don’t Use Twitter for Customer Service Unless…”

  1. Some good points, Esteban. At RightNow (my company) we’ve solved the first issue you mention with our Cloud Monitor product (, We’ve empowered agents to interact on twitter, and escalate twitter interactions into traditional CRM incident management processes, if that is required.

    On the second point, since we have knowledge at the core of our entire product suite, we provide agents with the right knowledge, at the point of interaction, to standardize twitter interactions. You are correct in that an entire, deep customer experience cannot be handled on twitter…yet. There are companies, like Cotweet, that are addressing the lack of ‘threaded tweeting’. In recent comments from twitter product mgmt, it seems they may be evolving a capability similar to FriendFeed’s threaded conversations. That will help in expanding the experience on twitter.


  2. You’re post is a nice departure from the “all companies must be on Twitter NOW” talk. Maybe they do, but what they do on Twitter and how they do it while on there need to be figured out beforehand. It’s not as simple as opening an account and saying “Follow us on Twitter!”

    Great point about the inevitable break in seamless experience for anything but the most trivial of interactions. What can you do, really, in 140 chars? And without simple threading, deep search or integration you’re just asking for a big ‘ol mess of a mess!! I can barely keep up with RTs and @ among my own limited circle of Followers, let alone a handful of company reps managing thousands of customer tweets looking for help. #ServiceFail waiting to happen. You can’t even do simple transaction based service: most customers can’t even enter their account # and related account info into 140 chars, to say nothing about privacy/security.

    So, in its current form, what role can Twitter really play in the Customer Experience? Is it really more one-way? Broadcast messages(eg service is up/down), announcements(eg New patch ready, new training doc available for download), press releases, tips and howtos, etc. Just how meaningfully interactive(ie versus just chit chat) can Twitter in current form be?

    Is it more intangible? The fact that “we’re here!”…that “we’re hip!”? That we at least are showing up to play?

    I need to take a closer look at what exactly Zappos, Comcast, and other examples of “success” are doing.

    Seattle, WA


  3. Esteban,

    Good post. I believe you are right as it relates to aligning your customers to the proper channels in order to be able to support them effectively. Twitter has some shortcomings in that regard.

    However, as referenced by the Comcast case study, Twitter can be an effective customer service tool if proper expectations are set (like everything).

    From what I know, Comcast is using Twitter (enter any other social media here) to monitor the web, blogosphere, twitterverse, etc. to listen to what is being said.

    Twitter (and other social media sites) in one sense are proactive research mediums that can be leveraged to engage customers (in this case), prospects, competitors, partners, etc. and then transition the interaction into “traditional” and/or more mature channels to respond appropriately and ultimately deepen the customer relationship

    Good insights and thanks again for sharing.

    Best regards,

    Brian @CRMStrategies


  4. Hi Esteban – great points. While I agree that Twitter is not a customer service tool (anymore than it is a CRM application!) I think your message may be a bit strong – part of the Customer Experience is being available where your customers want you to be, right? And then interacting appropriately for the media and the channel. So, while Twitter may not be a customer service tool I think it is another door through which you can engage customers and repair a broken customer experience or enhance one that is functioning correctly.


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