Top Customer Service Accounts on Twitter


Customer Service Thanks to a few online success stories brought about by dedicated customer service individuals, companies are starting to see the wisdom of putting the human back into customer service.

That means offering customer service in person. Is in person real time today?

Along with the additional promotional opportunity opened up with social media, many are walking the walk and actually listening to customers.

If you're actually doing the work online, you will know that number of followers is not really a proper measure without considering what the company does with it, and algorithms are a poor substitute for human vetting in sentiment — they don't get sarcasm, for example, or context.

Based on execution, not (self)promotion, I took a closer look at how many of the customer service accounts on Twitter are doing to share the top examples with you. The criteria for vetting were:

  1. answering customer questions in real time — in other words, they have the support of the organization to be problem solvers, and not just to point to policies and disclaimers
  2. thinking about customers first — which means, navigating the line between company rules and customer needs with skill. It will come as a shocker to many of you, putting a "customers first" tagline is a tiny step if you don't walk the talk
  3. orienting customers on what the account is about — often you can tell the level of thoughtfulness from the bio alone

Top customer service accounts on Twitter

JetBlue – 
1,593,994
Followers

115,202
Following




Bio: Have a question? Follow us and let us help! For official customer concerns, go to jetblue.com/speakup or call 1-800-jetblue
Currently on duty: @JetBlue/team

What to expect: frank conversation about flight delays


JetBlue 

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

SouthWestAir
1,043,295
Followers

9,516
Following


Bio: The LUV Airline! For official concerns please use the link provided in the web section above to let us know!

What to expect: the team stays on top of stories

SouthWestAir
__________________________________________________________________________________________________

Comcastcares – 
44,772
Followers
; 42,678
Following


Bio: My name is Bill Gerth also known as @comcastbill. We are here to Make it Right for our customers. We_Can_Help@comcast.com

What to expect: issue triage instructions, and information on taking the issue offline. When Frank was on duty, we also got links to the customer service streams of others. That tops the experience to me

Comcast 

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

Zappos
5,865
Followers

5,948
Following


Bio: Here to provide the Zappos.com Customer Service Experience!

What to expect: team members on duty introduce themselves


Zappos

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

Twelpforce
28,308
Followers

2,517
Following


Bio: A collective force of Best Buy technology pros
offering tech advice in Tweet form. Search www.bbyfeed.com to find your
own answers…

What to expect: helpful information, links, and tips, just like the bio promises

TwelpForce

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

HomeDepot
24,364
Followers

22,675
Following


Bio: I’m Sarah on our PR team, joined by Brandi and her team from Customer Care. Send us an email at sarah_care@homedepot.com

What to expect: a connection with the store

HomeDepot

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

DirectTV
21,630
Followers

3,107
Following


Bio: The Official Twitter Stream of DIRECTV

What to expect: they do take issues offline, and respond to customers

DirectTV

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

GMCustomerSvc
1,577
Followers

2,001
Following

Bio: Have a question, comment or concern about a GM vehicle? Let us know!

What to expect: what it promises in the bio


GMCustomerSvc



__________________________________________________________________________________________________

ATT CustomerCare
4,010
Followers

2,617
Following


Bio: Hi, I’m Molly, and I lead the AT&T Customer Care
team focusing on Social Media. I’ve been with the company for 15 years.
My second job is wife and mom to two.

What to expect: closed on weekends — UPDATE: closed from Saturday 4pm CT to Monday 7am

ATT
__________________________________________________________________________________________________

FordCustService
6,158
Followers
;
5,627
Following


Bio: Monitored Mon-Fri 8 am – 5 pm EST by Joanne (^JA)
Mary Anne (^MM) Mike (^MD) and other members of the Ford Customer
Relationship team.

What to expect: information and recommendations


FordCustService
__________________________________________________________________________________________________

BlackBerryHelp – 
111,719
Followers

24,930
Following


Bio: Official Twitter support account of Research In Motion.

What to expect: chock full of tips


BlackBerryHelp

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

Ask_WellsFargo
5,104
Followers
; 4,307
Following


Bio: Do you have a question about your Checking, Savings, or Online Banking account? Ask us! We're here to help: M–F, 8-5 PST.

What to expect: the team reaches out to customers, albeit a day later in some cases


Ask_WellsFargo

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

It's quite remarkable that so many large organizations are offering customer support on Twitter. The list I pulled together may miss your team, so please let me know and I will add them. I also wonder if smaller companies handle customer issues primarily on other channels and have no need for a special Twitter account.

It's easy to be perky when all is going well. Many brands are still testing the waters on Twitter with one primary account. What
customers want is a reliable and responsive contact for when things are
not going so well. Combine that with the fact that many organizations are coming to the realization that a conversation is a two-way street, and you have Twitter customer service accounts. 

Should all companies that have customer support issues be on Twitter? Does being on Twitter help the company understand and anticipate issues so it can support the rest of the customer base that has no Twitter accounts?

Would Twitter contacts belong on the On Your Side wiki pulled together by Chris Elliott? Or is Twitter not mainstream enough?

If you enjoyed
this post from Conversation Agent, consider subscribing
and sharing it.


0 responses to “Top Customer Service Accounts on Twitter”

  1. In terms of companies being on Twitter for customer service support, I would have to say that it depends and varies company to company. If the organization is active in the social sphere, then they should at least explore the option of social CRM.
    Companies in general need to do an audit of where they play in SM. You need to fish where the fish are in terms of engagement. If customers aren’t looking for help or chatting on Twitter, find out where they are and reach out and touch someone, whether it is Facebook, a forum, blog, Myspace, etc.

  2. Thank you, thank you, thank you
    How many times per week do I get bogged down in debates with small businesses that begin, “Social media has no value for my business – we’re different …”
    Usually, it also has something to do with “our customers don’t do twitter …” or facebook or linkedin or blogs …
    Yes, it is my job to “think outside the box” and to persuade my clients that my proposals are the future … you do want a future, don’t you? Posts like this are replete with examples of “real companies” using Social Media to the benefit of both the company and – more to the point – their customers.
    How else are you going to engage your customers in real time? There are other ways; but, using tools like Twitter, or Facebook, or blogs – so many choices, so many opportunities – even small businesses can keep their costs low, and be more responsive than ever before.
    Thank you.
    Best Regards,
    Mike Schleif

  3. Wow- great minds think alike! Love some of the additional examples at play here…with Frank moving on and more focus placed on quality of corporate responses, I’m sure there are even others looking to shine a light on some good examples.

  4. But has Comcast really done that great of a job online? I think they get a lot more credit than they deserve simply because they were one of the first brands on Twitter.
    In my opinion, true customer service helps shape the public’s perception about a company. How can we say a company or person is/was successful when they same issues and opinions about a company remain negative?
    Simply being online and asking “how can I help” isn’t customer service.
    Southwest, Best Buy, Zappos, Ford, Bank of America…those are the brands (I know, some are mentioned above) that are excelling at customer service online.

  5. @Jeff – indeed, a company needs to be where its customers are. Monitoring conversations and looking for ways to be useful is a step in the proactive direction, too.
    @Mike – they may have a point. Remove the opinion out of the equation. Run searches for those company names, products, or those of their competitors on Twitter, and find out if they do.
    @Jessica – lovely handle, I must say. And you will see some disagree on Comcast being a good example in the comments here.
    @Smiletoone – backing up with facts would help address the issue and your statement would gain credibility.
    @Kasey – “In my opinion, true customer service helps shape the public’s perception about a company.” Does it? My take is that reputation is an outcome of good customer service. Simply asking “how can I help?” is not as helpful as doing, that’s why Comcast followed up with diagnosis and actual repair people fixing the problem. Can you share a specific example or examples of Comcast not following up from online interactions?

  6. Valerie, exactly my point. Reputation is an outcome of good customer service. That’s why I question people who claim Comcast is succeeding online. Their reputation remains as poorly as it was when Frank and team started 3 years ago.
    Examples? Follow #comcast.

  7. Kasey:
    You must be fuming for the inclusion of AT&T on the list, then. I mean, search online and you have dozens of reports of how much the company sucks.
    Companies that size are like steering the Titanic. Does it mean we should not acknowledge honest efforts — and experiences to the contrary?
    I have terrible experiences with companies that don’t even dream of offering other forms of support. How about you?
    FYI – the words “succeeding online” are not in my post. The post is about putting humans back into customer service.

  8. I think another issue companies face in terms of customer service on Twitter is the staffing model. How many customer issues/complaints warrant a full-time person? A part-time staff member? Are they responsible for nights and weekends? I think some companies are still struggling with this facet.
    I might suggest another addition to your list: Select Comfort (disclaimer: client). They’ve done a nice job of using Twitter to listen and address real customer support issues and concerns in real-time. Primarily they do this using two handles: @sleepnumbersara (information, promotions and customer service triage) and @sleepnumberhelp (strictly customer service).
    @arikhanson

  9. Valerie,
    We could go back and forth on this for quite some time. I think it shows the value in this type of discussion and what people feel is “success” in the online space.
    I’ll leave with this – “succeeding online” might not have been in your post, but if you’re a “Top Customer Service Account on Twitter” doesn’t that require succeeding online? Unfortunately, quality customer service isn’t just “putting humans back into customer service.” If it was only that easy!
    Again, a good discussion and definitely one that gets people talking.

  10. @Arik – thank you for the suggestion. Solid point about resources. Staffing models is another way of telling if the organization is serious about investing in customer support. On the reputation management side, it knows it has a problem. On the fix the problem side, we hope they do more than pay lip service to a small pocket of online influencers. I added the customer service account to the list.
    @Kasey – I did post the reasons why I called them top right up front (name’s Valeria, BTW 😉 Yeah I suspect we could go on for a while. Maybe a drink next time I’m in your fair city?

  11. Hi, Valeria!
    Yes, of course, there are businesses for which Twitter, or else, are not optimal media. However, simply because no business similar to yours is using Twitter, or some other media, is not, in and of itself, sufficient reason NOT to consider it for your business.
    IMO, in such scenario it’s critical to take a long hard look at Social Media, if for no other reason than to add to your differentiation from your competitors. To be the first of many is to highlight your leadership. Leadership is one of many ways to demonstrate trust and authority.
    As we know, trust and authority are measures used by Search Engines to grant us honored status in the SERP’s.
    My point is, it’s rarely good enough to copy others outright; rather, emulation and turning your own spin injects your personality into the equation – which, to my mind, further establishes credibility. Twitter, and other Social Media, can be used in creative and different ways to further that credibility. Hence, my use of “opportunity.”
    Again, thank you, for this illuminating post.
    Best Regards,
    Mike Schleif

  12. I appreciate the acknowledgment of my team with other large brands making a difference out there in Customer Service, Valeria!
    Often what is visible online is not always the best judge of the overall efforts effectiveness, regardless of the size of an organization.
    By example, our most influential use of social media so far has been to change how we monitor a daily process benefiting both online and offline customers. This broadens the social impact far beyond what is immediately apparent to an outside observer, yet improves the experience for everyone in a way that can be measured.
    As more case studies start to focus on ways businesses have adapted processes and practices based on the collective knowledge customers share publicly online, the returns will be more widely recognized.
    Charles E. Miller
    Director of Digital Care, DIRECTV

  13. I think it can be agreed that a few of the companies on the list have not been well known for their great customer service, but being transparent also builds respect. If a customer reports a problem via Twitter and the company representative who handles the Twitter account provides bad customer service, then millions of people will see it. The companies know this and therefore feel that being this open will increase consumer respect and appreciation.

  14. Great overview Valeria! An inspiring list of companies who lead by example. With regards to your ‘Should all companies that have customer support issues be on Twitter?’ questions. Yes, they should if the audience is present there.

  15. Nice post, I think companies that are embracing social media channels such as Twitter into their customer service are leading the way and showing a good example. These companies now stand out to us but in the next 18 months or so this will change and Twitter users will come to expect this level of service as a minimum. Consumers want to get some kind of reaction. There are also lots of companies that are doing nothing at all such as PC World. My wife recently had a nightmare experience with them and I reccomended she replied on Twitter but they weren’t even on it. They should get their ship sorted out now.

  16. Customer Service goes way beyond responding quickly on Twitter. It is how they follow up, or reach out in traditional ways too (ohone, email, etc) I have had my issues with ATT, but @ATTJohnathon went way beyond what I thought he would do. I have had similar experience with @FordCustService and @Lowes.
    I repeat, it is not enough to respond…a bot can do that, an attempt at resolution must occur as if you were standing in the lobby.

  17. Hey Valeria,
    Great post! I love seeing examples of what others are doing to help their customers on Twitter. If you don’t mind, can you add @AMCHelps to your Customer Service list?
    Thank you!
    Ryan Noonan
    AMC Theatres

  18. This is a post every company should read, most notably cause it highlights a point we should be stressing to our clients and colleagues as PR/Marketing pros — Customer Service, PR and Marketing ARE NOT mutually exclusive. In fact, you could very easily argue that customer service is a form of PR and Marketing. Or sales. Or both. And I am in fact arguing that :).
    I think we have to give Comcast credit for using Twitter for customer service first. They saw the opportunity and took advantage. That is the first piece of this pie and is a PR and CS win. The next piece of the pie is setting your organization up to succeed in this medium on the back end — IOW, governance and response protocol.
    Customers do not care about departments, silos or turf. They want answers and solutions. Companies that organize themselves behind the scenes to provide these two things wherever their customers are will win, will build reputation, will create brand advocates, etc.
    If a customer walked into your store, would you turn your back on him/her, go to the phone and give him/her a call? When orgs don’t listen and engage on customer service via Twitter or other online mediums, that’s what they do. Only difference is the customer is sitting in front of a computer and can immediately share the experience with their network.
    Twelpforce is super responsive on Twitter and so is Radian6. Tweeted to them the other day and heard back from two different people within two hours.
    Great post and conversation,
    JG

  19. Valerie
    On the ATT what to expect, you cite “closed on weekends”. Was that based on personal experience? I have seen they work on Saturdays.
    Also, for all of the twitter customer service operations listed, any ideas on how to start truly measuring (quantitative and qualitative) the best of breed? Twitter customer service is becoming a “me too” offering, and execution makes the difference between poor and great service on twitter.

  20. @Mike – thank you for explaining further what you meant.
    @Charles – “Often what is visible online is not always the best judge of the overall efforts effectiveness, regardless of the size of an organization.” I agree. And I’d welcome the opportunity to work with you and your team to showcase your metrics.
    @Vee – however, the process and organization need to experience a fundamental change for it to stick.
    @Jody – and they need to be ready to support that function with action.
    @Chris – that is why I maintain that Frank at Comcast made a difference. He was not hanging out just to chat, he was helping channel issues to the organization for diagnosis and solving. And in some ways, that has also changed the way the organization does customer service. Had that not been the case, when I called today because my cable was out, I would have gotten trapped in phone hell, like I have in the past.
    @Susan – got it, added. Thank you.
    @Bob – I agree and in my experience these companies have come through so far.
    @Ryan – you got it. Glad the post is helpful to you and the AMC team.
    @Justin – and I did argue that a few years back when I wrote that customer service is the new marketing 😉 I agree. Customers want a company to fix the problem when it comes up, and prefer communication to learn how it’s going in the process of fixing and solving the problem.
    @Sean – I actually modified that when it was pointed out to me that that particular account closes only after 4pm CT Sat to 7am Monday. You must have been reading from RSS 🙂 And thank you for correcting me. Great question! I will think about it as I know you’re on top of those kinds of measurements remembering our group discussion at SMBC at CISCO a couple of years back.

  21. Hi Valeria,
    It’s so nice to see a post like this coming through the pipeline, giving credit where credit is due to the businesses making those steps to provide reliable customer service where it makes sense. To answer some of the questions you posed at the end of your post:
    – Should all companies that have customer support issues be on Twitter? Nope. If your customers aren’t there, you probably shouldn’t be, either, at least not out the gate. Depending on investment costs and time, you can run a short trial CS program via Twitter and see if it attracts customers, but if you’re not seeing response — and only you can decide what a reasonable growth in response would be — then it’s not worth it.
    – Does being on Twitter help the company anticipate support issues of customers outside the bounds of that platform? I’d say it’s a decent sampling. Will you be able to anticipate everything? No. But each channel you actively participate in provides a feedback loop that directly contributes to your ability to anticipate certain service needs and issues.
    – Should Twitter contacts go on the CS side wiki? And is the platform mainstream enough? Couldn’t hurt to add contacts to the list, but I’m not sure the platform is popular enough to denote a need for contacts to be included at this point.
    Wonderful post! And a quick thanks to Justin Goldsborough for the kind words — so glad to hear our customer service efforts on Twitter are making a difference.
    Cheers,
    Teresa
    —-
    Teresa Basich
    Community Manager, Radian6

  22. @Ed – as I said earlier in the thread in response to Charles from Direct TV, it would be interesting to track how the company’s processes change to reflect learnings from social media interaction. This is an open invitation to all leaders for a deeper conversation.
    @Teresa – having been on the inside, I know – and appreciate – the work and effort these professionals put into these accounts. Thank you for helping us think through the open issues that will no doubt continue to help close the gap between isolated cases and part of the process. Honestly, as I looked at Elliott site and list, I thought it was quite mainstream-ish – his readers would probably not know what to make of @ accounts 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *