Customer Support Via Twitter Isn’t Support, It’s PR
Over the weekend, the online banking app Simple shut down, transitioning its customers over to accounts with its parent company BBVA. This did not go well. Users of the service (including myself) found themselves locked out of their accounts and took to Twitter to complain, where BBVA’s social media team could reach out to help with their problems.
This is a terrible way to do customer support. But then that’s not the goal, is it?
Let’s set aside BBVA in specific here for a second. The issues with the transition from Simple to BBVA started long before they got to the customer service stage (whose idea was it to transition all Simple users at once on a Saturday morning, for example?), but BBVA is far from the only company to use this social media tactic.
Companies from airlines to internet service providers to tech giants all have resources devoted to finding disgruntled users on Twitter and trying to resolve their issues. But there are severe problems with this approach. For starters, as one study from a customer service management company found, Twitter support is generally okay at pointing users to existing policies or information but not very good at solving the kind of problems that a user would need to contact the company for.
Companies don’t want to admit that calling into a phone support line is simultaneously a grueling, aggravating experience and also one of the best ways to get your problem fixed.
Another 2016 survey found that when customers called a phone line, they got their issues resolved around 60% of the time but that success rate dropped down to 16% for people complaining on social media.
Let’s admit a fairly obvious fact: Phone support sucks. Digging through branching menus, listening to fake humans fake type on their fake keyboards, and jumping through hoops before you have the privilege of sitting on hold for 20 minutes is hardly what anyone would call a good time. And yet, once you can finally get through to a person, it’s usually one of the better ways to get an…