By Marc Karasu
The only thing worse then bad customer service is no customer service.
Twitter seems to exacerbate this problem or at least companies are not really using Twitter correctly.
In recent months we are starting to see those ubiquitous little twitter icons on tv commercials and print ads the same way every ad in 2000 had the novelty of a “.com” url to go along with the company logo.
The difference is that a customer that actually does go to Twitter to find a company is more often then not going to be let down by the poor to nonexistent customer service they get from the company on twitter.
Of course there are exceptions to the rule like Zappos and a few others who have great traditional customer service. But the majority of companies with a Twitter account burp out a lame tweet or two every few hours and in many cases only once or twice a day. And the tweets themselves are skimpy. Usually a promotion or some pathetic twaste like “Thanks for the props. We love your comments”. Often these companies don’t even answer the customer tweets. This is the dirty secret.
They are trying to position themselves as consumer centric and while in reality they have just built a new room where the lights are on but no one is in the office.
Thanks for nothing, is what they are saying and what the customer is left thinking.
Is this what “Digital customer service” is in the twitter age?
Happily some more useful business applications like MeasuredUp.com, Yelp.com and Angies list exist that actually provide value to both the consumer and the company.
This is not to say Twitter is a bad service because it is not. And in full disclosure I manage MeasuredUp.com.
Its just that the companies that use Twitter appear lazy and often seem to be relegating their twitter accounts to the intern or junior marketer which means huge lapses in coverage when invariably the people managing the account leave for other jobs. Twitter is in fact littered with empty company accounts with old stale comments. In many cases there are several company accounts with similar twitter account names which is surely a sign that the company could not figure out the login info and had to open another new account.
Worse are the twitter accounts that seem to be run by either a third party or hack in the marketing department that simply churn out promotional white noise. This is not a help. It is in fact part of the twitter problem which is that seemingly half of all tweets are some schmo trying to sell you a get rich quick twitter scheme or a company heaving some crappy offer at you.
The bottom line is that companies today are not using many of the real online business tools that exist and are twasting everyones time with rinky dink attempts on Twitter that are so annoying it would be better if they had no account.
Clearly Twitter is trying to push itself as a business tool but if companies keep taking the low road they will over time ruin twitter and completely turn it into a noise machine.
If consumers care enough to hit the internet to find your company, then you should be smart enough to engage them meaningfully and convert them into sales. If you do not then expect your competitors that do figure it out to take you behind the wood shed.