Why Twitter Should Matter To You: Twustomer Service Edition
I’ve been preaching the virtues of Twitter for several months now, and publishing posts that are aimed at educating businesses about the potential benefits of using the platform, in any number of ways. The topic has become super hot recently, and we’ve got some exciting stuff related to Twitter strategies that we’re cooking up over here and will be posting on the blog soon.
In the meantime, I wanted to share an interview I did with Ginevra Whalen, TypePad’s Community Manager and the person behind @sixapart, six apart’s Twitter handle. This interview is the result of my very own Twustomer Service experience with TypePad/Six Apart. A few weeks ago I was having trouble logging on and posted a frustration Tweet. Within 20 minutes I received a direct message from @sixapart providing me with an email and phone number to use to get my problem resolved immediately. An hour later I was back up and running.
Slate.com’s BizBoz Blog had a similar experience with @sixapart on Twitter and accurately summed up the advantages of Twustomer Service noting that Web 2.0 technologies allow customers “to get superior service without even having to seek it out…but only if [companies] take full advantage of them.”
Six Apart is doing a great job listening, engaging, and acting – and their doing it in a way that produces happy, vocal customers. If your curious what it looks like at other end of the spectrum, I urge you to read my recent post Why Twitter Should Matter to You: UHaul Edition. Given these two extremes, where is your company? Where do you want it to be?
Kaitlyn: When and why did six apart get on Twitter?
Ginevra: We’ve had the account for a while, but I just took on the new community manager position about 8 weeks ago. Before that, our VP of Evangelism, Anil Dash, handled all Twitter communication. It’s good to have more than one set of eyes on the account now â€“ and anyone in the company is welcome to ask us to post a Tweet.
Kaitlyn: How are you using Twitter on a day to day basis?
Ginevra: Lots of ways! Tweeting about awesome things our bloggers do is my favorite. There’s some administrative Tweets ie: a new release of one of our products, or a maintenance window. Of course, there’s fun stuff too â€“ birthdays, events, shoutouts – that keep it more personal.
We also keep an eye on Twitter to see what other people are saying about our services and products. If someone’s saying that they’re frustrated, we want to be able to help them. We’ll either follow that user, and, if we can, see if we can help more directly via DM/email. The responses from users has been overwhelmingly positive â€“ a lot of times they’re just venting, but when we find a way to help them, we turn the experience around into something that’s a win for everyone.
Kaitlyn: Can you give an example of a customer service situation you handled through Twitter that could not have been dealt with similarly through “traditional” methods?
Ginevra: We’ve got a great support team that users can access directly from inside the applications with questions, as well as extensive documentation and a fantastic community to help support us. Sometimes, though, users can’t log in to file help tickets, or they’re on their phones and out and about. Twitter makes it easy to address people who are concerned, excited, confused or whatever – in a big hurry! And they typically thank us with equal enthusiasm.
Kaitlyn: Lots of clients wonder about the ROI of getting involved with services like Twitter. How have you structured your involvement on Twitter, and how has Twitter helped you meet your business objectives?
Ginevra: I wouldn’t say it’s easy, but it’s fun, if you like that sort of thing â€“ which I do! Solving people’s problems and getting it done quickly and efficiently is a great reward in itself. It can definitely be a full-time job, depending on how broadly and deeply you want to go into Twitter â€“ as it grows, so will the possible conversations you can engage in. Currently, we have 4,300 or so followers, and follow about that many too.
Kaitlyn: “Loss of control” is a big issue for companies thinking about starting conversations with their customers. Have you had any negative experiences using Twitter?
Ginevra: Control over your customers’ conversations is an illusion â€“ think about how many times you’ve sighed about your cable service, or a plane being delayed. Six Apart (and JetBlue and Comcast too) use Twitter to try to understand, manage, facilitate, and participate in the conversation. People will always have their say, but everyone feels better if it’s a conversation and not just yelling into the void.
Kaitlyn: What’s the funniest thing situation you’ve dealt with or witnessed as a company providing Twustomer Service?
Ginevra: I’ve made a few typos, which is both embarrassing and funny. I think it shows our human side, actually, and that’s what this whole thing is about. People are also a little sheepish sometimes when the realize that we can hear what they’ve said about us â€“ for example, I know I talk all sorts of smack about a TV show that I watch, but if the director was sitting in my living room, I’d probably be a little more careful with my words.
Kaitlyn: What other social media platforms do you use to connect with your customers?
Ginevra: Well, we make our social media and blogging platforms â€“ Movable Type, TypePad, and Vox â€“ so we use those mediums quite a bit. We also keep a hand in Facebook to make sure questions that are asked in groups or by fans of our products are being answered. We also have a pretty big presence on Get Satisfaction and LinkedIn questions, and I try to find people who are posting on their own blogs about their first posts, blogiversarys, or challenges with technical issues and leave them a comment or send them an email to offer to help.
Kaitlyn:In 140 characters or less, what advice do you have for other companies that are contemplating using Twitter the way that you are?
Ginevra: Don’t be afraid to show your personality! The difference between a company having a conversation on Twitter and spam is authenticity.
From today I am going to be starting a new section of the site called Social Media Champions. My plan is to interview people in the 'Social Media business' and find out what they do, what their favourite sites are, the Social Media tools they use, top tips for Social Media and much more.I am pleased to say that the first person I have invited to answer these questions is Ginevra Kirkland, Community Manager for Six Apart which, in their words, "provides award-winning blogging software and services that change the way millions of individuals, organizations, and corporations connect and communicate around the world every day." The company provides the Movable Type social publishing platform, the TypePad premier hosted blogging service, Vox, a free blogging service. Founded in 2001, Six Apart is a global company with its headquarters in San Francisco.
Below, you can find some links to people who've recently been praising my work in community management both online and in books. I'm so happy that talking to customers and engaging them in a positive manner is something that's catching on.
Ogilvy PR: Twustomer Service
Marketing Tom Media: Social Media Champions – Ginevra Kirkland
Bob Walsh: Web Startup Success Guide
David Meerman Scott: World Wide Rave