In last Friday's post I posited that Twitter, when used correctly, could be the ultimate customer service tool. It's immediacy, portability and sincerity are unmatched. As with other forms of social media I think that the first step for most companies should be listening. It's crucial to wrap your head around how the community works, see who is talking and what they're saying.
Similar to other forms of social media, listening does not even require you to have an account. You can use the resources that I've listed below (in most cases) without a username and password. The resources here will give you an idea of how your customers and potential customers may be using the service. This will help you create a customer service strategy for Twitter. It's very important to take time with this and make adding value to the community your number one priority.
Having great customer service is a huge PR benefit as well as keeping customers happy and loyal. I'm constantly amazed at how many companies get into trouble because of poor customer service. Generally it's things that could have been caught and resolved on the spot had they been listening. This ranges from 800 numbers to support emails to blog posts. It's key that Twitter (or other micromedia) is just one part of a larger customer service strategy.
Here are some helpful Twitter tools to get you started on your listening journey.
Twittermeter allows you to track keywords across the public timeline of Twitter. Go in and search for your brand and competitors. If you can't find mentions for your category or niche. I guarantee people are talking, are you listening?
Twitter Karma gives you an easy view of who you are following on Twitter and who follows you back. This is a great way to make sure you're listening to everybody you can and that they're listening to you.
This may be the most impressive, explanatory application out there. Showing people this site seems to solidify the ideas and show them the global, real time nature of the service. It also illustrates the challenge of monitoring for customer service.
Tweeterboard aims to be a site that aggregates "conversation analytics" (though I think it under delivers on that promise). You can find a username and see how often it updates as well as some reputation information. It also shows who is talking to you and who you are talking to as well as showing the links that the user sends through the service.
Twitterholic looks at the Twitter timeline and finds the top daily users. This is a good way to see who has influence and is active on the system.
This service looks at the links that are being submitted through Twitter and ranks them by popularity. Note that the high use of TinyURLs (a URL shortening service) makes the links appear very vague and hamper the usefulness of this service.
Terraminds allows you to search both the public timeline and users. The results are very fast and listed by recency.
TweetVolume simply lets you see how often a term was mentioned on Twitter. The summation is displayed in clean bar graphs.
Another timeline search, this one allows you to search by combining a term with a user. Results are available by RSS or direct link.
This visualization engine is built by Twitter. It allows you to surf the users based on who you're following and who their following. You can navigate as deep as you like and the interface makes it interesting and fun to do.
Tomorrow I'll go through ways that different types of companies can use Twitter for customer service. I'm planning to include IT services, CPG, B2B and retail. If you have another industry that you would be interested in seeing me cover please email me or leave a comment on this post.
Are you listening to micromedia outlets like this in your company? Why or why not?