Many of my clients have asked, "How should I use Twitter for customer service?" There are many applications that are adding Twitter as part of the contact center apps. But today I'd like to talk about the basics of using Twitter. I spoke with Anne Wood, the Head of Knowledge Management at Carphone Warehouse to learn about how they entered into Twitterland.

The Carphone Warehouse (CPW) is Europe's  leading independent retailer of mobile phones and services, with over 2,400 stores in 9 countries.  Their customers were already posting comments on Twitter and other places in the cloud. CPW made the decision to publicly acknowledge customer complaints and harness the power of saying, “I’m sorry,” using Twitter as part of their customer service technology. CPW’s approach on Twitter started with two accounts @guy1067 and @carphoneware and eventually they added more.
Anne told me,
"We realized we can’t control whether customers are complaining or the content of the complaints they post in the cloud. We also realized customer complaints are a positive driving force for changes that need to happen within our company.”
CPW finds that customers turn to Twitter for a number of reasons:

  1. Their complaint through traditional channels has fallen through the cracks
  2. The customer feels they are not being "heard" or taken seriously by the company
  3. The customer realizes CPW employees who work in the digital ecosystem are more objectice and empathetic than traditoinal customer service agents.
  4. Customers immediately get resolution to issues that require cross-departmental solutions
  5. Customer feel that the contact center and CPW stores have treated them poorly and they got the raw end of a deal.

Anne told us that there is not a deluge of compliants in Twitter as many companies fear.  In an average week CPW gets 80-100 customers service tweets. Of these, 12-15 might require action beyond the traditional tweet response. Three to five of them might require escalation to the customer service team. In addition to the customer service tweets, CPW sends out between 50-75 corporate-related  tweets from their @carphoneware or @shaneatcarphone. These include share price information, links to press releases and interesting articles. In addition to tweets, CPW also retweets posts which total ~100-200 across all accounts per week. CPW also retweets interesting posts from Geek Squad, BestBuy and TalkTalk that they believe customers will value from the information in them.
Guy Stephens, CPW's Online Help and Knowledge manager told us,
“We get positive and public feedback when we resolve an issue, just as we get negative publicity when we have created an issue. However, unlike resolving an issue via email or on the phone, the use of twitter immediately puts the problem and its potential resolution or lack of resolution in to a public space. What has changed is not that people complain or complain publicly, it is that we respond and our response is public, as is our acknowledgement of the complaint. Twitter is almost like the pane of glass one looks through at a restaurant to see how the kitchen is run. It affords the opportunity for the customer to see through and watch how their complaint is handled.”
Here's what a CPW customer told us,
“…in desperation, I turned to Twitter to try to penetrate what felt like the huge, uncaring behemoth of Carphone Warehouse. And I found Guy Stephens, the company’s knowledge and online help manager, who appeared to be tackling customer rage in a passionate, empathetic manner on Twitter. I tweeted him at 8 PM. By 8:07 PM, he replied. I was unconditionally blown away. Three months of torturous phone calls with the contact center had gotten me no where. But via social media, I felt listened to within minutes and my problem was solved within a few days.”

Twitter not only improved customer sentiment towards the CPW brand, but also offered new channels for a range of customer service interactions where they could respond to customer complaints and feedback more quickly than ever before as well as proactively provide information to customers. The report on how CPW is using Twitter for Customer Service provides more detailed examples.

If you would like to read the actual report, it's 17 pages!Click here!

For more information, contact me at @drnatalie or


Other documents in this series on Customer Service and Social Media!The first part of each listing is the link is to the Forrester Case Study or document and the second part of each title has a link to the story on my blog– that way if you are not a Forrester client (yet 😉 ) you can see some of the results and start taking action!

Case Study 1: ACT! By Sage Uses Social Media To Transform The Customer Experience

Case Study #2: Lenovo Takes Ownership Of Social Media To Reduce Customer Service Costs

Case Study #3:InfusionSoft Improves The Customer Experience With Social Media

Case Study #4: Achieves Customer Service Scalability Goals Using Social Media

Case Study #5: Intel Uses Social Media to Transform the Customer Experience

Case Study #6: Cisco Consumer Business Groups Builds Business Case for Social Media

Case Study #7: How NetApp Uses Social Media for Marketing and Transforming Their Business

Best Practices in Social Media:Five Strategies Customer Service Professionals

The ROI of Social Media:How to Calculate the Return on Investment for Customer Service