It’s Time to Offer Customer Support in Real-Time (and More of What We Learned at #RLTM)

June 10, 2011

Your customers are moving at the speed of light and they expect you are too.

Consider this: 572,000 Twitter accounts are created every day, and approximately 1 billion tweets are released every six days. How many of those tweets are from your customers? And what are you doing to respond?

While most customers still typically accept responses to their issues within 24 hours, that period of time still feels much longer than it used to. These days, even a couple of hours can feel like an eternity, and conversely, it’s absolutely crazy how much can happen in just a couple of hours.

If you haven’t incorporated social media into your customer support strategy, you have to start now. This instance. Seriously, leave this post and go tweet something. We’ll wait…but your customers won’t.

This week, we had the opportunity to attend Realtime NY 11 (formerly TWTRCON), and met and mingled with some of the industry’s most influential leaders in and around social media. The all-star list included:

  • Laura Fitton, the CEO of oneforty.com
  • Shiv Singh, head of digital at PepsiCo
  • Rick Wion, director of social media at McDonald’s
  • Frank Eliason, the man behind @ComcastCares, who is now at CitiBank
  • Allison Ausband, Delt’as VP for reservations sales and customer care

Everyone who spoke agreed that it’s never been more critical to reach customers faster. There’s no more time for pushing a marketing campaign through months of planning and approvals before finally releasing it to the public. Someone else will have beaten you to the punch.

Rumors and negative comments need to be quashed ASAP. Just ask Rick Wion of McDonald’s who saw a rumor about the franchise offering a McLobster Roll blow up overnight…and with it, a stream of vulgar comments. There was no time to put together a series of boardroom meetings. The “official” response had to happen on Twitter. Social media just moves too damn fast for anything else.

And it moves just as fast when it comes to support.

Delta knows this. It uses 12 full-time agents to handle support issues exclusively on Twitter under the handle @DeltaAssist. When blizzards pummeled the Midwest and the East Coast last year, leading to thousands of delayed and canceled flights, customers who tweeted were rebooked faster than customers who called the 800-number. And when an army unit returning home from Afghanistan was charged $2,800 in baggage fees, Twitter became the airline’s most powerful asset for getting the word out on its policy changes regarding military personnel and baggage fees.

Customers are demanding responses in real-time. They want their issues resolved in real-time. So if you are still dragging your heels on using social media as a support channel, you are behind the curve. Woefully behind the curve.

Beyond customer satisfaction, providing support in real-time is a way to get your support team moving faster. It’s one of the most seamless processes we can think of for responding to and resolving support requests.

It’s why we are so passionate about our “twicket” technology, which allows agents to turn tweets into help desk tickets, easily and seamlessly from the Zendesk interface. Our advocates immediately respond and oftentimes resolve customer issues within minutes using our Twitter integration.

What’s even cooler is how It all happens live, so all of our followers can see that when someone has an issue, we are on it ASAP. And more often than not, customers who’ve been helped by your agents are quick to tweet back their satisfaction…often with a punchy, witty response. This simple process not only keeps our support running like a well-oiled machine, it’s a chance for us to express our company culture, making for a more personal support experience. And moreover, customers tweeting out to our followers (and inadvertently their followers) that they are happy we fixed their issue or gave them the answer they needed, means we get the bonus of free and honest marketing. Our customers attesting our ability to help them and make them happy in a very public space is the best kind of advertising a company can hope for. That’s a very real thing, in very real-time.

So what are you waiting for?

To read more about integrating social media into your support tragedy, check out our white paper on supporting your customers with Twitter.

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