I have only recently started using twitter (http://twitter.com/guy1067) for a variety of reasons:

  • monitoring what people are saying about Carphone Warehouse (‘CPW’) where I work
  • just trying to understand more about twitter and how it works
  • trying to understand the relevance of twitter to providing help

A week or so ago I was monitoring what people were saying about CPW. One particular person had tweeted that he thought he could improve UK productivity by 20% by rewriting the systems at CPW. I made the decision to tweet him back and although my intervention did not resolve the situation, the whole encounter was a hugely valuable experience; probably more for me than for him.  My observations as follows.

1) The role of twitter in providing real-time help within the overall customer experience. Twitter can be used in-store, or anywhere for that matter, during the buying, research or post-purchase experience, as long as a company is set-up for it. Imagine, if a customer rather than speaking with someone from customer service, simply tweeted in their query or issue, which was then picked up by customer service (or their followers) and responded to accordingly. 

In this instance, a customer was trying to upgrade to an iPhone and there was a difference in the dates of birth on the CPW system and on the O2 system. After 90 minutes the situation still had not been resolved satisfactorily for the customer. However, if the tweet had been picked up by CPW customer service, then perhaps the customer might have known after 10 minutes what needed to be done. 

2) The amount of background information required to understand a situation before you can even think about providing a solution. An important consideration is also the channel being used – twitter, mobile, email.

In this instance, the customer tweeted in that the dates of birth were different on the CPW system and the O2 system. As I was tweeting this person, I realised how much information I actually required in order to try to understand how best to help him. I knew I could not help him personally, this would have to be done by customer service, and perhaps I should have put him straight through to them. Whilst the initial contact came via a tweet, which worked well, the subsequent exchanges would have worked more effectively for both parties by a quick phone call. So it’s also about understanding what works best when and by whom. 

3) An insight in to providing help in the future. Imagine a time when you’re in a store and all the sales staff are busy helping other people. A quick tweet in to a company’s customer service department could potentially fill the gap. The tweet alerts them with your query or problem, and they either tweet you back or call with an answer. Perhaps, if you’re buying they could reserve a product for you, or take your order and you simply pick it up when there is a free salesperson. Once you understand the experience you want to create, the touchpoints available to you, and the channels open to you, you can then start to mix and match and create a more ‘tuned-in’ customer experience.

4) Who, and how, do you choose to tweet back to and try to help? This is an interesting one. You are potentially going into a situation blind and although the intention is positive, the result may not be so. Until a company gears itself up for responding to tweets (if it makes sense for it to do so), it’s still going to be a judgement call about which tweets are dealt with.