Broken website? Quick – Tweet it!!
Westpac’s online banking was experiencing problems during business hours. Having tried to use it around 9am, there was definitely some issues with logging in and it was very slow.
Westpac customers who are following Westpac on Twitter were made aware of this by a tweet.
Planned outages on the site would normally have obvious banners throughout the site, warning customers that the site was down for maintenance, so we can only assume this was an unplanned issue, especially given the timing of it.
Westpac were quick to announce to customers via Twitter that they were experiencing problems with online banking, and also responding directly to customer queries.
Why use Twitter rather than the website?
Twitter is a much faster way to get the message out to customers as Westpac is likely to have very structured release cycles that don’t allow for them to quickly change messages on the website.
But they are also trying to quickly respond to the volume of queries or complaints about online banking being unavailable.
This is a good example of using social media to quickly get messages out to customers. But this only seems to translate to the Twitter channel – as there was no mention of this on Westpac’s Facebook page.
Perhaps this was due to the low volume of Facebook fans that Westpac has. This may indicate that two separate teams or people are responsible for the two different channels, or simply that Twitter is a preferred channel for certain types of messages. Generally it would be beneficial to have a consistent message on both of these channels, if only to allay any concerns or pre-empt calls to the call centre.
How can you use social media for customer service?
Generally the use of Twitter as a customer service channel is increasing, with customers learning that the Twitter channel can be a route to much faster responses from corporations. Why spend ages waiting on hold with a Call Centre, when you can get a quick answer from Twitter.
This opens up a number of challenges for organisations embracing social media as a customer service channel. Stringent guidelines and training are required for staff representing a brand via social media, to manage the balance of immediacy with brand integrity whilst still ensuring that the tone of social media interactions matches the more relaxed tone of social media generally.
Matching the online followers or fans to a company’s existing customer base and the wealth of data held in CRM systems is a challenge for most companies, and one that can only be solved through strategic and joined up approaches to social media, online marketing and customer relationship management.
A benefit of the volume of honest feedback and questions that fans and followers are posting is an insight into customer sentiment and can be a valuable asset if tapped into and used.