Using Twitter for Customer Service? Answer the customer’s dang question

I recently read ‘s write-up on “The Great Social Customer Service Race,” an experiment by her company (Software Advice, Inc.) that put 14 top consumer brands to the Twitter support test. As you might imagine, some of the brands fared poorly in this test:

  • Coca-Cola sent one reply four days after the initial question. In Twitter-time, four days is an era or an epoch.  (Which one is longer? That’s the one I want.) And customers don’t want to wait an era for a reply.
  • McDonald’s failed to be helpful. The “customer” from Software Advice asked “If I wanted to pick up pre-made orders for my office weekly, how do I set that up? Can the order change? Is there a min spend?” The McDonald’s customer service agent tweeted back, “Hey Kyle, I would contact the manager at your local store. Stores work differently when it comes to prearranged orders.” Verrill argued that the agent could have asked where the office was located and provided the nearest store’s address, phone number, and manager’s name, or answered, “Yes! Some stores can do that. Let me see if I can help!” I agree. The McDonald’s agent should have helped more.

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Verrill is echoing the core principle of my courses about writing high-quality responses to customers. When writing to customers in any channel, social or otherwise, the agent must answer the customer’s dang question. That’s the minimum requirement of any customer service communication.

So I’d like to take issue with Verrill’s rewrite of a Wells Fargo tweet. Her piece criticizes the Wells Fargo’s tweet for being robotic. The customer wrote:

  • “I’m thinking about switching banks. @WellsFargo what kind of fees do you charge for personal checking?”

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Here’s Wells Fargo’s reply:

  • “@HoneyBeeRich Hi Brittany, please visit: wellsfargo/checking/ for information regarding our checking accounts. Thanks. ^SP”

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Verrill suggested that a better response would have been something like:

  • “@HoneyBeeRich Thx so much for ur interest! We’d to have your business! Here’s more info. on fees: http://bit.ly/GKn0S Hope 2 ‘see’ u soon!”

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I don’t agree. I find the rewrite grating: too many !!!s and too many tweet abbreviations; that’s not the right tone for a buttoned-down bank. But the biggest problem is that neither the Wells Fargo tweet nor the rewrite answers the customer’s question about fees for personal checking. Here’s my version:

  • “@HoneyBeeRich Personal chkng fee is $0 w/ $1,500 min daily bal OR direct dep of $500 per statmnt cycle. Learn more bit.ly/YGt3Xt Thx!

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My tweet is kind of lumpy with abbreviations, and I used every last character, but at least it answers the question. If you have a better rewrite, please share it here. Tweeting to customers is  much harder than it looks, so it’s always useful to have good models..

Interested in apples-to-apples comparisons of customer service quality? Download our whitepapers:

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Read our blog posts about Twitter communication with customers:

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