Forget everything you think you know about why Twitter is an annoyance for which you have no time. Twitter can be your best friend when it comes to customer service — whether you're on the giving or receiving end.
Some of my clients' Web sites were down for a bit today due to a server failure. As soon as I learned of the problem, I did two things:
1) I posted an announcement in the support forum on the nSiteful Web site.
2) I posted an alert to my Twitter timeline.
That's my SOP
, and I try my best to let all my customers know that.
When a server fails, my phones ring. I welcome that first call. I want that first call. (Let's be honest: a client whose e-mail just stopped working might learn about the problem before I do.)
But I don't want or need any more calls. They get in the way of my solving the problem and restoring your services. And you've got better things to do than wait for my voicemail greeting to end so you can leave a message for me about a problem of which I'm already aware.
Some of my customers — - those who follow me on Twitter and know to access Twitter from their computers or smart phones when a problem arises — learned quickly that I knew about the problem and was working on solving it.
(Customers who set their Twitter preferences to receive text messages on their mobile phones whenever I tweet learned even more quickly.)
Customers who forgot that I post alerts on Twiiter — or who never took the 6 minutes it takes to create a free Twitter account and follow me — called and got my voicemail.
Here's the point, and it's not about me:
have a business whose customers expect you to provide customer service (is there any other kind?), you, too, can use Twitter to serve them better.
You don't have to follow Ashton Kutcher or Shaq.
You don't have to tweat (tweeting what you eat).
But if your product is on backorder, or your school is closing early because of a snow storm, or your Web site's online store is down because of server problems — you can use this nifty, free tool to reach out and touch your customers with a little bit of timely customer service.
PS: Someone once suggested to me that having a company Twitter account could expose his company to flaming. Let me assure you: Not having a company Twitter account doesn't prevent anyone from flaming you. But it does prevent you from finding out about it in time to control the damage.