Tweet limits pose a social CRM issue problem for O2
Twitter has become the de facto location for most company’s social media customer service, and it’s becoming more and more common for a brand to have a full time customer service team manning a dedicated Twitter account to deal with customer complaints and enquiries.
It’s not hard to see why; it’s quick, convenient, and simple, and has a huge advantage over traditional lines of customer service in that it’s ‘pro-active’. Using Twitter you can monitor andlisten to customer complaints, and offer assistance before the aggrieved customer has even realized there’s someone listening.
But Twitter wasn’t really designed for customer service and as much as it’s an interesting and exciting example of how social media tools can develop and mutate to fit the needs of its users, a basic flaw in this functionality was exposed this week in light of O2’s latest PR disaster.
It was discovered that O2-networked phones send a copy of your mobile number to every website you visit on your handset. Cue massive outrage and extreme paranoia amongst O2 customers taking to the web to vent their spleen towards the company.
O2 did what any good company using social media does these days and responded to all the messages they were receiving on Twitter from upset customers. But such was the volume of complaints that O2 exceeded their daily tweet allowance, and were unable to respond to any more tweets. They solved this problem by blogging on their site and addressing the queries in that way.
In these instances you can appeal to Twitter to have your allowance extended from the basic 250 direct messages and 1000tweets/retweets/@messages that you’re allowed to send every 24 hours. But Twitter refused.
It poses an interesting problem, and one that Twitter should probably seek to address if it is to allow its service to blossom further into the dominant and industry-standard tool for social customer service. There’s nothing more annoying to an upset customer than to be ignored, and as the platform continues to take a more important role in a company’s social crm, a silent voice is a fundamental flaw that will be unacceptable when a business’ reputation is on the line.
There is of course always the possibility that Twitter could use this as a further way to monetize their service. They could look into offering premium accounts that have less of a limit on daily tweets, or by turning your business Twitter page into a customer service hub, almost like a ‘Get Satisfaction’-lite. This could feature favourited tweets along one side that function almost as a FAQ. Or perhaps they could allow brands to even flag some of their own responses to appear at the top of their stream that deal with real-time immediate issues that arise, like the O2 debacle in question.
Either way, if there’s a feasible opportunity for Twitter to make extra money, I certainy wouldn’t put it past them to have a crack at it. They are increasingly aware of the important role they play for brands as evidenced by the roll out of new brand page layoutsthis week, and the customer service tweet-limit issue is one that could easily start to rear its head a lot more frequently in the near future, and Twitter wouldn’t want to ‘limit’ its usefulness now would it?
Tom McCann is a senior social CRM Analyst at Testify.