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Customer Service via Twitter: A Social Media Experiment [Infographic]

by Verónica Jarski  |  
January 12, 2013

As an experiment in customer service via social networks, in this case Twitter, Software Advice recently had four employees send customer service tweets via their personal accounts to 14 leading consumer brands in seven industries.

In collaboration with CIO, Software Advice wanted to test the speed, efficiency, and quality of the brands' replies to tweeting customers. 

Each company was tweeted to once per weekday for four consecutive weeks. Each tweet fell into one of these categories:

  • Urgent help needed
  • Positive
  • Negative
  • A question from the company's FAQ page
  • Technical (i.e., needing more than one interaction for a resolution)

For the first and third weeks, the four employees used the brands' Twitter handles (e.g., @brandname), which ensured that Twitter would notify the companies that they were called out in a tweet. For the second and fourth weeks, the tweets mentioned only the brand name—not the handle.

So, in this socially connected world, how did the top 14 brands respond to customers' talking about them or reaching out to them online?

Not very well.

The companies responded to only 14% of the tweets.

"One of my goals was to see if any of the brands would identify us as active socializers and improve their response time. Not one of the 14 brands did," said Ashley Furness, a CRM analyst for Software Advice and one of the employees who tweeted to the brands.

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Veronica Jarski is the Opinions editor and a senior writer at MarketingProfs. She can be reached at

Twitter: @Veronica_Jarski

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  • by Dan Gorgone Sat Jan 12, 2013 via web

    Wow. If I ever need help from Apple or Walmart, perhaps I should create a banner ad asking for assistance. It might get a better response rate. :)

  • by Shep Hyken Sat Jan 12, 2013 via web

    This info in this article, supported by the infographic doesn’t surprise me. Companies talk like they are on social media, but for many it is a soft effort, at best.

  • by Lori Brooks Sun Jan 13, 2013 via web

    These big guys really need to catch up & get in the groove. I was disappointed to see those big brnds that never replied, and made me realize that they are "behind" in today's and the future advantages they could reap through better performance via Twitter interaction.

  • by Carla Mon Jan 14, 2013 via web

    Was there a reason you didn't assess brands that use Twitter specifically for customer service like Citibank (@askciti), Delta (@deltaassist), Comcast (@comcastcares) or others? I haven't researched it, but I don't know that any of these brands have established themselves on Twitter with the objective of managing customer service. Not that they shouldn't have responded in some way, but they may not be staffed to handle Twitter as a channel for customer service. Customer service for a big brand is a huge undertaking. Just think of the number of mentions of Starbucks or Apple that must occur on Twitter every hour. I recall reading somewhere that Delta has 18 or 19 customer service agents to monitor & manage @deltaassist. There are many reasons for a brand to be on Twitter and I would hope all of these included in the infographic monitor mentions and sentiment and use the data to spot trends with products or service, but without a specific objective of using Twitter for customer service, I'm personally not surprised at the findings.

  • by Ayman Yacoub Mon Jan 14, 2013 via web

    Not surprised but disappointed to see brands like Apple, VISA and Walmart not even responding. A shame though for Apple being a tech leader.

  • by Ryan Mon Jan 14, 2013 via web

    I, too, was surprised by the no response from Apple. It seems like this company has promoted itself as the hip, cool, "up to date with the current trends" type of company. For a company that portrays this type of images and one who's supposedly a "tech leader", they sure do need to get with the times and get themselves on social media. If customer service response was important to me, I'd more than likely go with HP based on this report.

  • by jsncruz Tue Jan 15, 2013 via web

    Glad to see Coca-Cola is keeping up its social responsiveness :)

  • by Kathryn Mon Jan 21, 2013 via web

    Is it possible these brands saw tweets coming from only 4 users and therefore had a biased response as they would toward a spammer, troll or...?

    Granted, this doesn't change the COMPLETE LACK of response from some.

  • by Ryan Passarelli Mon Jan 21, 2013 via web

    Does Steve Jobs know about this?

  • by Suki Mudan Fri Jan 25, 2013 via web

    An insightful and most revealing experiment. Funny how some brands don't walk the talk.

  • by drkevin Fri Jan 10, 2014 via web

    excellent initiative, but I'm not surprised by the findings

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