Twitter is changing the way people tweet and it may have huge implications on the way customer service departments interact with consumers using the social media service.
Not long ago Twitter announced that it would change how it calculates the number of characters built into a tweet. To be clear, the 140-character limit isn’t changing — for the time being, Twitter says it has no plans to expand this limit (as widely rumored over the previous few months).
But here’s what is changing: some time over the coming months, tweets that start with a user’s social media name will be visible to everyone using the service. That may not sound like a huge change, but it’s a significant step away from the current system, which keeps these tweets viewable only to the sender, recipient, and any followers. (That said, this change only applies to new tweets, meaning replies with a user’s name starting the tweet will not alert everyone.) So, what makes this a big deal?
This is good news for… customer service on social media… because it creates a brighter spotlight on brands and their successes or failures in this space.
“On one hand, this is good news for those of us who’ve been evangelizing customer service on social media for years, because it creates a brighter spotlight on brands and their successes or failures in this space. It’s therefore good news for brands like the ones we’ve featured on the Focus on Customer Service podcast, who’ve prioritized social care…”
Admittedly, for the average Twitter user, it may not really change how they use the social media service. But it could seriously complicate the lives of customer service representatives who interact with their company’s clients through Twitter. That’s because so many customer service-based tweets begin with a brand’s name, which means that the vast majority of customer-service-oriented tweets involving a company will be visible to everyone.
In essence, this means it will be harder than ever before for a company to hide its bad press on Twitter. At the same time, it will force companies that use the social media service to think extra carefully about their replies to customers. It may also force companies that don’t quite go the extra mile to make customers happy to rethink their approach to social media and customer service in general.
Theoretically, then, Twitter’s change — however minor it may seem to most Twitter users — could be a real boon to consumers who choose to interact with the companies they do business with using the social media platform. It will also offer those companies that have been taking social media-based customer service seriously for years a new opportunity to set themselves apart from the competition.
Of course, Twitter’s move will make it painfully obvious which companies are lagging behind in building and establishing a coherent social media strategy and presence. In the end, it would appear the social media learning curve is getting even steeper, making it harder for more conservative, more hesitant organizations to meet the needs of their existing customers, win over new customers, and meet the challenges of their marketplace competitors.