Social Induction – Customer Service on Twitter and its impact on digital strategy

April 15, 2014
Andy Murphy


You can’t move these days for opinion pieces about Facebook’s plummeting organic reach and the impact it has on a brand’s digital strategy. It’s true, many brands are experiencing some extreme drop-off in their reach numbers. This is happening for a variety of reasons and is worthy of a standalone blog post later.

Part of the problem may be that Facebook and Twitter have just become boring online extensions of brands’ offline customer service help desks. Certainly people are expecting more from social channels when it comes to getting an answer. A recent study by Hubshout discovered that, on Twitter, 53% of people expect a response within the hour; if it’s a complaint, that figure rises to 72%.

So, when Performance Communications’ Nicola recently bade us farewell on maternity leave, little did she know she would be putting those numbers – and the NHS – to the test.

After a long night on the wards waiting to be induced, Nicola was “slowly starting to lose her mind”. Having waited patiently as long as she could – more than 24 hours – Nicola did what most consumers do these days and took to Twitter to demand answers.

social induction 1She tweeted Flo, one of the senior obstetricians at Kingston Hospital asking how long it was reasonable to expect to wait for the process to begin and to, finally, welcome her bundle of joy.

Destroying expectations in response times, Flo responded in 7 minutes – despite being off work!social induction 2

Flo managed to co-ordinate a response and pulled in the relevant members of her team, online and offline, with spectacular results – 17 minutes later, an apologetic senior midwife was seeing Nicola. Two hours after that, her waters were broken and the process was well underway. Six hours after the first customer service tweet was sent, a 7lb 4oz baby boy finally joined Nicola and Adam – Congratulations both!

social induction 3Obviously this is a fairly special case, but there are lessons to be learned for brands.

  1. [quote align=”right” color=”#999999″]Brands need to tap into the power of their employees to respond and engage on their behalf.[/quote] Social Business – Customer service and social media shouldn’t stop with the customer service or PR team. Social is all-encompassing now. Brands need to tap into the power of their employees to respond and engage on their behalf. Which leads us to point two…
  2. Ensure there are robust processes in place for dealing with these issues as they come up. Flo looped in her head of comms on Twitter and staff on the ground to make sure the issue was dealt with quickly and effectively. Without having those processes, this might have been a much slower and less impressive story.
  3. Tone of voice – Throughout the process, the Kingston hospital team maintained a reassuring and positive tone of voice. It helped diffuse a stressful situation.


The final word I think goes to Flo – #PowerOfTwitter

social induction 4


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