#CustomerService on Twitter – How Public Relations is adapting to the digital media landscape

The whole point of customer service is to help inform customers, or resolve any problems and queries that they may have about a service or product. In the past i have found customer service to often increase my negative emotions towards a company or brand, getting little response and resolution for a lot of effort gone in to making a complaint.

Twitter has become a platform that has transformed the way we consumers can get our complaints and questions heard. Social media has given everyone with access to the internet a voice, which means a business now has to worry about the constant and immediate stream of information that consumers are sending out about them.

As explored in Jed Hallam’s book; The Social Media Manifesto, a companies brand is being better promoted by consumers reviews then of the advertising and marketing promoted by the company itself. This means that if a customer is unhappy, he or she can voice this online through social media platforms. Companies now have to embrace and adapt to the digital media landscape and use these platforms as a positive way to interact with customers and offer helpful customer service to divert the problem and negative emotions.

Just this morning i was up and out early ready to make my train to Uni, 2 minutes before my train was due to arrive it stated that my train was now cancelled, which resulted in me missing my only seminar of the day- one which i really wanted to make. Not only was this a huge inconvenience to me personally and academically, but also financially as i had already purchased my ticket.

Naturally the first thing i did was Tweet Trannspeninne Express directly, making sure to include angry red emojis to demonstrate my frustration. It wasn’t long before i got a direct twitter reply from their customer service team, offering an apology and asking me which service exactly i was referring to.

Consumers like myself want a quick response when we are unhappy with something, or need some help. According to an Edison study, 42% of consumers expect a response on social media within one hour, and 32% think it should be within 30 minutes. As well as speed, Organisations simply need to show some form of apology to begin a conversation to start to build a relationship with the consumer.

A YouGov survey commissioned by social media monitoring company Brandwatch which questioned over 2,000 British consumers on brand interaction, finds that half of respondents complain because they want companies to learn from their mistakes. The finding counters the misconception that people’s main reason for making a complaint is to embarrass brands publicly, with only 17 per cent stating they complain about a brand for this reason. Giles Palmer, CEO of Brandwatch, says: “Some people just love to complain – you can’t get away from that fact. But what our results also show is that consumers are sharing information via social media because they genuinely want brands to be better at what they do. The problem comes when brands think they know best. They’re behaving a bit like teenagers, and being too petulant to actually see what’s in front of them.”

I am still optimistically waiting for a second reply offering some kind of resolution for my wasted ticket purchase, however i am still impressed by their customer service team’s quick response to my negative tweet- proving exactly how effective social media platforms like Twitter can be at giving people a voice, and how companies now have to adapt aspects of their business such as customer service to fit the evolving digital media landscape.


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