WooThemes recently announced that they were closing down @WooSupport and would no longer be providing social customer care on Twitter. Advocates were quick to jump in and applaud the move, crying out that 140 characters are not fit for support.
“With our users being of the techie variety most are on Twitter and it’s a space where we frequently get questions about products, potluck inquiries, reports of glitches, panicked alerts about problems, shout-outs, suggestions et al.”
WooThemes says it themselves: their customers love Twitter. This is a huge missed opportunity for WooThemes to build a valuable, high-exposure social brand.
Social customer care: Live where your customers live
Customers love initiating a conversation with a company on social media because it is much easier than opening a support ticket or even emailing support directly. Now, WooThemes’ only support option is for existing customers (with an order number) to submit support tickets – and only through a form with NINE required fields.
If I were a customer working on a new installation, I might just put off filling out that form for “later,” especially if I just had a quick question. Even when I did get a satisfactory response, it wouldn’t be easy for me to come back for more help. All these little hassles just to get some quick help? It would be difficult to forget the hoops WooThemes made me jump through to get an answer. High effort experiences are the most common cause of customers leaving.
I’m squarely in WooThemes’ target market. I spend so much time on Twitter that it’s also my first instinct to tweet at companies I need help from. It’s so easy for me to start a tweet and ask a question. Encouraging customers to interact with your brand on Twitter opens the door to an entire segment of customers – like myself – who might not be willing to fill out a questionnaire for support, but still want to talk to you!
Lowering the barrier to interaction means that you can elevate your customer’s experience one tweet at a time. At the end of the day, customer support is only about making the road to success as easy as possible for the customer.
It’s not the platform, it’s you
“But the truth of the matter is Twitter is not the place to handle support queries and when we try we shoot ourselves in the collective foot.”
Multiple advisory firms would disagree. Twitter has been gaining momentum as one of the most important places to handle support. Gartner found that not responding to support channels can lead to an increase in churn by 15%. Harvard Business Review found that customers who experienced a good social support interaction were 3 times more likely to recommend a brand. Even more, Bain and Company found that customers who received a response over social media would spend up to 40% more with the company.
It’s a good business decision to help your customers over Twitter, or wherever your customers gather online and ask questions.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that responding on Twitter is the same as responding over email. It requires you to adapt to the channel, just like you do with phone and email support.
Warby Parker has gotten pretty creative on Twitter by sending out amazing video replies to resolve more complex issues. When one customer was having trouble getting her glasses delivered, this customer advocate stepped up and sent her a personalized response.
— Warby Parker (@WarbyParker) March 27, 2015
They also link to general videos about resizing and adjusting frames to address the most frequent customer inquiries.
General Motors has a support team that actively coordinates mass vehicle recalls, and owner grievances over social media. G.M.’s support team even coordinated a round-trip ferry to ship a customer’s defective car from a remote island in Alaska to the nearest dealership in Juneau. They did it all on Twitter, through private messages with the customer.
All this is to say that there are many ways to send help on Twitter, even with only 140 characters.
“A lot of time, energy and to-and-fro is saved when we know certain things about the inquiring customer upfront – including logins details, order history etc – and this is best and most securely done through ticketing.”
Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. Having all of your data unified will provide a great customer service experience and improve the lives of both customer and support agent. With the right support software, this integration is already possible. By pulling in Twitter to your existing help desk, you can get a complete, single view of the customer and support them armed with all necessary information.
How to use Twitter for customer service
“The @WooSupport account has less than 1,000 followers but it is more the principle of it all…”
“Our support-related goal on Twitter is simply to point people to the best places to get help.“
While I agree with WooThemes that Twitter isn’t the best place to be troubleshooting complex programming errors, most customers understand that as well.
The purpose of Twitter customer support is quick, efficient answers to questions that might not otherwise be asked. 71 percent of customers say that valuing their time is the most important thing that you can do. By reducing the time it takes to ask a question, and receive a reply, you’re providing a better customer experience, According to Forrester.
WooThemes has a great self-service. By doing a good knowledge base audit, and using the links to direct people to the right knowledge article, you’re connecting the customer to the answer with minimal trouble for them.
Using a low number of followers to justify closing down Twitter support misses the point of a support handle. Most customers don’t follow a Twitter handle — they don’t want to talk to support very often! A better metric success metric would be the handle’s engagement or the number of tickets reduced over time due to social support.
If you want to get really fancy, try integrating HubSpot or other CRMs to see if a tweet to your support team increases the lifetime value of your customers. You could also use custom URL parameters to see whether social customers continue on to complete goals in Google Analytics, such as signing up for the blog.
Social media support doesn’t go away just because you ignore it
“The idea of someone with a larger social media following being able to fling something aggressive out and make everyone jump is not just.”
Twitter is not going away just because you ignore it. The haters, venters and curious bystanders will still be on Twitter regardless of your presence. This is even more true for WooThemes, because their customer base is made up of digital natives.
I understand why WooThemes thought a retreat was the best strategy – they couldn’t see the forest for the trees. Twitter support wasn’t going well for them, and they believed that if they could focus on other areas instead, they could maximize channels they felt more confident in. Unfortunately, those aren’t the channels their customers feel comfortable in.
We come back full circle to the point: meet your customers where they are. The one incredibly powerful currency driving business today is engagement. It builds trust, relationships and in our connected world, it’s the sole driver of overall growth. A lack of engagement doesn’t just lead to losses, it undermines the growth of your customer base.
If you have customers who are actively trying to interact with your brand on a daily basis and those messages go unheard, it’s your loss. If you’re able to capitalize on it – and it’s a worthwhile investment to try – then you’re definitely on the right path.