This year marked the 10th anniversary of Twitter and they celebrated by sending users a loving message, ‘Throughout the years, you’ve made Twitter what it is today and you’re shaping what it will be in the future. Thank you for making history, driving change, lifting each other up and laughing together every day.’ #LoveTwitter

Few would disagree that Twitter has changed our culture, but many argue whether or not that is for the best. Its brevity forces users to say what they mean in as direct a fashion as possible; not always resulting in the intended context or hitting the right note. There have been notable examples of those who foolishly retweet controversial content and by #putting it out there risk #getting it right back at you, in the form of litigation.

In the customer service world there are two critical issues voiced regularly in our network; the issue of fairness with regard to those who tweet complaints directly to the top and the extent to which this results in speed of resolution and of course compensation.

The ‘fairness to customers’ agenda was written in the dying days of the financial services regulator FSA before it became the FCA, focussing not just on service but of course conduct. There is extensive regulation around the fairness agenda not just in banking and financial services but in the utility market too. And yet most organisations will admit that those who can command the board’s ear through loud and visible tweets are rewarded more than those who follow protocol and go through the published channels.  

The current reigning queen of Twitter is Katy Perry, whose followers now number more than 84 million and Justin Bieber ranking second with 77 million, will have no trouble being heard, but what about the millions who are not users at all? And of course you don’t have to be famous like the aforementioned just technically savvy and persistent.

The second issue for organisations to think about is how these new service channels like Twitter and web chat should be integrated within the customer service operation, and what skills are necessary to ensure that the responses synchronise with customers whilst upholding the brand; easier said than done if your brand has hitherto been a stuffy institution with hundreds of years of corporate memory rooted in Dear Mrs Smith correspondence.

CCA Research Institute results on the ‘Building a Smarter Workforce’ in association with Plantronics show that 75% of organisations surveyed report that social media is still on the periphery of customer service or owned by other departments. And yet of those who have taken the plunge report great progress with well chosen social media teams ramping up quickly to meet consumer demand.  The key of course is integration as the same channel agnostic consumer may well tweet, call or chat from one device whilst on the move, hoping in vain to get resolution from a siloed organisation whose service operations are organised according to internal management structures rather than customer needs.

Clever organisations can of course turn customer enquiries into free mass advertisements; there are endless funny examples and I particularly like the Waterstones one:

@DWill_: Hi @Waterstones I've been locked inside of your Trafalgar Square bookstore for 2 hours now. Please let me out.

‎@Waterstones:  We're pleased to announce that @DWill_ is a free man once more. Thanks for your concern and tweets!12:15 AM - 17 Oct 2014 – link:

This resulted in 1,895 retweets 1,726 likes. Think what this did to Waterstones brand, imagine the headlines if he hadn’t got out!

We can only imagine the next ten years and I doubt if any of us can accurately predict how we will be communicating by then; we have certainly failed at this in the past with predictions of everyone using email and no more phone calls by 2015! The consensus from this week’s CCA Industry Council Leadership Forum is that new technologies, including artificial intelligence, will reenergise the human, caring element of customer service by assisting us with more emotional intelligence, whilst removing the clutter of simple but essential interactions which are better done by the machine.  

Something to ponder as we enter the holiday weekend, I hope you all have a #HappyEaster!