ICMI is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.


Why a 280-Character Customer Service Tweet is a Bad Idea

Note from the editor:  This post originally appeared on the E-WRITE blog and is a perfect example of what not to do when providing social customer support.  Want more customer service brilliance from Leslie?  She'll be speaking in session 206 (How to Write High-Quality Chat to Customers) at Contact Center Expo and Conference. Register here to attend.

This is a tale of social customer service. The main characters in this story are Bluehost, the company that hosts my website, and me, the customer. Our "happy marriage" has lasted about 4 years, but now we are on the rocks because my website keeps going down. In frustration, I send out this tweet:

A mere seven minutes later, the strangest thing happens. Bluehost sends me a two-tweet response. No, not two tweets. That wouldn't be quite as strange. Bluehost has sent me one 280-character response that's been broken mid-sentence into two 140-character tweets. And in my inbox and my Twitter Interactions, the second one showed up first.

Why a 280-Character Customer Service Tweet is a Bad Idea

Don't even get me started on the content of the tweet(s). (In my opinion, Twitter isn't the best place to urge an angry customer to upgrade and pay more.) Here are three reasons why using Twitter in this fashion is a bad idea:

1. If separated from the other, each tweet looks like a mistake. Plus, this two-tweet weirdness makes it seem like Bluehost doesn't understand how Twitter works.

2. Customer service writers are obliged to work within the requirements of each channel. If you write a customer an e-mail, you have to use a subject line. That's one of the requirements of the channel. If you mail a customer a letter, it should have a greeting, closing, and the signature of the person who wrote it. Those are the requirements of the channel. If you tweet a customer, you've got to present your message in a 140-character box. If you have more to say, tweet or DM the customer and ask to switch to a "more words" channel: e-mail or phone.

3. This two-tweet set is impossible to share. The best social customer service is easy to share. While a customer service agent may not have crafted a tweet to an individual customer so it could go viral, it's just dumb to write tweets that cannot ever be shared.

Maybe I need to get with the times and realize that the two-tweet message is a thing. Are you as put off by Bluehost's two-tweet message as I am?

It's not like this is the first time.  The I-can't-fit-everything-I-have-to-say-into-140-characters problem is pretty common. (See my previous post "Twitter Customer Service: Two partial DMs from AT&T do not make a whole.") But a 280-character just seems wrong to me, like violating the rules of the game, like being both the shoe and the Scottie dog in Monopoly. That's just not fair.

More Resources

Webinar: 5 Steps to Superior Social Customer Service
ICMI Contact Center Symposiums: Nashville Symposiusm Training Courses
Virtual Course: Contact Center Basics: An Agent's Role in Contact Center Success
Educast: Agents CAN Provide the Effortless Customer Experience