Study says Twitter customer service pays off

Twitter is increasingly focused on the customer service uses of its service, and many brands, like Southwest, are investing heavily in their Twitter customer service capabilities.

But do such investments produce tangible returns? According to a study published this week that was conducted by Applied Marketing Science for Twitter, the answer is a resounding yes.

The study, which used a conjoint analysis methodology, found that “businesses create a massive opportunity for themselves when they acknowledge customer service-related Tweets from consumers.”

For example, Applied Marketing Science explored the subject of price elasticity and found that customers of national pizza delivery who received customer service on Twitter were willing to spend as much as 20% more, or $2.84, per transaction. Customers of telecom companies were willing to spend 10% more, or $8.35, per transaction.

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What’s more, customers who received a response to a customer service-related tweet were 44% more likely to share their experience and 30% more likely to recommend the brand in question.

Finally, and perhaps not surprisingly, the Twitter-sponsored study found that the faster a company responds to customer service tweets, the greater the value of the response. Airlines, for instance, that respond to a request in under six minutes can increase future customer spend per transaction by nearly $20. Responding more than an hour later produces an increase of just $2.33, a huge gap.

A similar dynamic can be seen with telecoms. Those that can respond in under four minutes can boost future phone plan revenue by just over $17, but responding more than 20 minutes later results in a potential increase of under $4.

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The catch

In addition to the results from the study it sponsored, Twitter cited an Aspect Research study that found Twitter to be the least frustrating customer service channel as compared to phone, web, email and in-person, as well as McKinsey research that says social customer service interactions cost a sixth of customer service interactions in call centers.

The suggestion: Twitter is a customer service channel that companies can’t afford to ignore.

That might be true, especially when it comes to responding to and resolving negative customer service tweets, which Twitter’s study found boosted willingness to spend by three times in the telecom market.

The catch, of course, is that companies can’t force their customers to interact with them through any particular channel. Even if the cost of providing customer service through social channels like Twitter is much lower, and the potential benefits are significant on a per-transaction basis, companies still need to ensure that their customer service investments are properly aligned to where their customers are interacting with them. In other words, if the majority of a company’s customer service requests come through phone and email, they shouldn’t invest 80% of their resources into social customer service to the detriment of phone and email.

By all means, they should take advantage of Twitter, including its customer service-focused features, as well as other social channels like Facebook, but the ultimate goal today should be to deliver great multichannel customer service.

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