You wouldn’t compromise brand sentiment in-store, so why do so on Twitter?
Miles Freeman, Account Manager at Lexis Agency, discusses the importance of customer service on Twitter and why a poor social media strategy is the worst gamble of brand equity a company can make.
Twitter – a platform for customer service
We’ve all done it, that passive aggressive Tweet to your bank, a national rail firm or even a high street restaurant following poor customer service or a negative experience. We all then attentively monitor our Twitter notifications awaiting a response in the quest for social media retribution. If you’re currently shaking your head, I’m afraid I just don’t believe you….
Twitter is now the ‘go-to’ method for consumers to vent their frustration and it seems that some brands are not well equipped to handle it. A recent mystery shopper study by BDRC Continental found that some of the UK’s most established retailers are actually among the worst brands for answering customer queries on Twitter. In fact, the top performers were high street banks and credit card brands.
To conduct the research, BDRC Continental sent over 9,000 tweets to 395 high street brands in 32 different market sectors. Each response was then ranked by the quality of answer, additional information offered, tone of voice and the perceived effort put into the response. All of the selected brands were sent the same 25 queries by 25 different users to allow for benchmarking.
Ignore Clarkson, it’s not all about ‘speed’!
Now I’m certainly not one to point the Twitter ‘finger of shame’ but I was fascinated to see which 10 brands were listed as the fastest for customer service on Twitter, by response time, and which 10 brands were listed as the slowest (Click here to save me peril of naming and shaming).
That said, customer service on Twitter is not all about speed – it’s about being concise and helpful. To be successful, brands must be consistent and treat everyone as an individual. Let’s use the example of a physical retail store – brands don’t selectively choose who they want to speak with, they aim to speak with everyone that steps through the doors. The same approach, within reason, should be adopted on Twitter.
When looking at the top five sectors for quality of customer service (arguably the more important measure) banks and credit cards topped the list followed by DIY retailers, insurers and gambling companies. Scrolling to the bottom of this list we find those sectors in need of improvement – grocery (convenience), clothing retailers, sports equipment, electronics (mobile/computers) and restaurants.
So, you ask, what can be learnt?
Well, any company that has an active Twitter account must firstly have the appropriate resources and processes in place to respond to every consumer. To improve brand equity and sentiment, companies must be consistent and helpful in how they communicate. An investment in getting this right will always pay dividends – and prevent descent into that dreaded bottom five.
Whilst the financial sector has had its fair share of PR woes over the last decade, it’s learnt that good customer service on Twitter can be an ‘easy’ PR win. Granted that these institutions may have large social teams in place to manage social and PR, but it’s this mind-set that brands should take heed of.
All brands endeavour to take care of their customers in person, so why not do so on Twitter? By no means do brands need a small army of Twitter guardians but instead a succinct and robust strategy, with clear protocols in place to ensure all correspondence can be carefully managed.
More often than not, it’s common sense that is the key to efficient Twitter management – something US Airways could have benefitted from after it responded to a complaint on its Twitter page with a pornographic image. (Although – the post did receive more comments and retweets than the news of the Pulitzer Prize award that broke at the same time!).