Getting customer service on Twitter right

Gone are the days where we irately walk into a shop with our best I-am-not-impressed-face, script recited in our head, ready to give the first member of staff to whom we lock eyes with an earful about our faulty product or terrible experience. Today, we are more likely to launch our favourite social media app on our phones to rant until our heart is content, myself included. However, with Twitter being my channel of choice, my rants are concisely limited to 140 characters.

According to a recent study, 71% of consumers are more likely to recommend a brand that provides a quick and effective response on social media. And after my two recent Twitter experiences, I can vouch for those stats. Despite both experiences beginning with a 140-character rant, they could not have ended more differently.

I shall take a mature stance and withhold from naming and shaming. However, I will say that one is a beloved roll of sweets filled with round jellies, and the other is a luxury high-street retailer.

Let’s take the sweets to begin… Following a particularly heavy Saturday night; it was safe to say that I was not feeling my best this particular Sunday morning. So, I decided to put the fitness fanatic inside me to rest and pick up a roll of my favoured sweets. To my disgust, I found that out of my 8 jellies, it was a 50/50 split of oranges and yellows. No blackcurrants or reds. Shameless, I know. I decided to take my conspiracy to the masses and post a photo of this horrific criminal activity on Twitter.

My tweet was kind; no company handle or hashtag included. To my genuine surprise, no more than ten minutes later, my iPhone notifies me that ‘@CompanyName have mentioned you in a tweet’. Huh? How did they know?! They found my photo that quick? I almost felt embarrassed about complaining. I soon found myself in a conversation with a member of their team who’s empathy ran deep with my situation, and to my perpetual delight, for 1 ‘bad’ roll of sweets, a voucher that’s value could buy me 10 rolls was on it’s way to my mailbox! I couldn’t believe it. Surprise and delight defined.

On the contrary… After spotting their 40% sale, it was time to kit myself out for upcoming holiday and buy a selection of clothes (ones I would only purchase if there was 40% discount). 7 days later, no delivery has arrived. I check my tracking number and apparently my package was returned to the sender 3 days earlier. I had received no email informing me of this, so I decided to get in touch using the Contact Us form on their site. 48 hours later, no reply. It was time to take my rant to Twitter.

In contrast to my jellied sweets, I received no instantaneous reply. Instead, I had to find the retailers dedicated customer service Twitter handle. They have one, good start. After a tweet and a few direct messages, it took them over 12 hours to get back to my simple query. When I finally receive a reply, it became apparent that the ‘help’ were not very helpful.

They informed me my items were damaged, but instead of just sending a new order to me, I had to be refunded the full cost, wait for it to appear in my account, phone to re-order them, thus meaning I would not receive the original 40% discount! Oh, and I was not allowed to have it delivered to my work address, only my billing address, all due to their ‘company policies’. Instead of owning my problem and ensuring it was resolved, all of the inconvenience landed in my hands. The discounted clothes were not worth the hassle.

I have since been spreading the word of both of these experiences to my friends and family and I have realised one thing. The first company have risen my expectations of customer service tenfold. If a ‘cheaper’ brand with less reason to care about my quarrel can reach out unprovoked and steer me from dismayed to delighted in a single tweet, then how can a huge luxury high-street retailer get it so wrong?

My point? Too many brands just follow suit. ‘Oh, they have a customer services Twitter handle, we need one too.’ Monkey see, monkey do. However, if you are unwilling to put the correct company policies, strategy and sufficient resource in place to connect with your customers and solve our problems, then don’t offer the service at all. The expectation of resolution is there. Live up to it.