Think that Twitter is going to be the answer for always-on customer service? Think again. According to PV Kannan, chief executive of 7, a customer service software company, the ubiquitous tweet is the last resort for customers who can’t get satisfaction elsewhere.
“People use social media to express concern and unhappiness,” said Kannan. “Customer service organisations add their services to Twitter because they don’t do [service] well elsewhere.”
Of course that’s the sort of answer expected from a company providing cloud-based chat, IVR and call centre services to organisations including Lenovo and American Express. However, Kannan isn’t the only one expressing reservations about the social media channel.
“We have a soclal media team to address people when they are unhappy,” said Chris Smith, who heads up carrier Optus’ online sales and service. Smith agrees social media, and Twitter in particular, isn’t the best place to have a customer service conversation. Optus is a 7 customer.
One of the main reasons, he said, is because the conversation is in public. For an enterprise, that’s akin to airing dirty laundry in public.
Where it can work, he added, is in providing an immediate response and turning a previously hostile customer into an advocate.
It’s better, however, to not need to have these conversations at all. Kannan’s company uses statistical smarts to immediately answer customer service questions, avoiding the need for a customer to venture into what’s commonly known as “IVR hell.” That’s when the interactive voice system provides a single response to any query.
“Customer service is still largely stuck in the 1980s,” commented Kannan. “It can be so much better.”