Customer Service and Twitter: Easy As Pie

Twitter PieToday’s blog post is written by Daniel Pesick, Associate Product Manager here at Patron Technology.

When I first moved to New York, I lived in a neighborhood with incredibly poor access to grocery stores. As a result, I began ordering groceries through an online grocery delivery service. For the most part, I was very happy with the service I received, and it was amazingly convenient to have my food brought right into my apartment.

My first few orders were filled perfectly, but around the fourth time I ordered an item was missing. I ordered hummus, and it simply wasn’t in the box. I called the customer service line and was promised a new tub of hummus, to arrive the next day. But this wasn’t enough for me. I needed people to know that I was wronged by this grocery delivery service. This was one of the greatest tragedies of my life, after all, and the entire Internet just had to know about it.

I posted on Twitter, complaining that my order was delivered incorrectly. I mentioned the name of the company, but I didn’t directly contact them by using their Twitter handle. Considering that they had already agreed to bring me more hummus, I just wanted to vent, and I wasn’t expecting anything in return.

But the response I got was overwhelming: their vice president of customer service called me personally to apologize for the mistake, offered me a refund for the order, and promised a special treat on top of that. It was an absurdly disproportionate reaction to a minor qualm, but it made me feel that I was heard and special, which cemented my status as a future customer of theirs.

Oh, and a few days later a pie was delivered to my apartment.

Let me remind you: all of this happened because they were paying attention to Twitter.

We here at Patron Technology talk quite a bit about how social networks such as Facebook and Twitter are incredible tools for opening up and encouraging conversations about the art you’re presenting. Those reasons really should be enough to motivate you to maintain an active presence out there, but here’s another: social networking is one of the simplest, most effective ways to provide customer service.

Here are some ideas for your customer service via Twitter:

  • Check out the Twitter feed for the Broadway musical Newsies, @newsies. This is really the gold standard for performing arts tweeting. They respond to nearly everyone who tweets at the @newsies handle, and I’m willing to bet that everyone who gets a response feels important. Taking the time to respond to people who specifically use your Twitter handle is a must.
  • Say you’re with an orchestra doing a Beethoven Festival. Try setting up a simple Twitter search for “Beethoven” during the week that you’re performing Beethoven’s Ninth. Whenever individuals in your area mention Beethoven, let them know that your performance is happening. See how many “Tweeters” you can convert to patrons. If people already have tickets, tell them how excited you are that they’ll be attending.
  • Implement the same customer service policies on Twitter that you’d use on the phone or in an e-mail. Remember that not everyone on the Internet has nice things to say, and you shouldn’t ignore these comments. For example, what happens if everyone hates your show? What if there’s a failure in your sales process? What if one of your ushers is rude? We all hope these things don’t happen, but sometimes they do. There’s not much you can do to rectify the situation once it’s already occurred, but there’s a lot you can do to prove to your patrons that you’re hearing them, especially through social networking. Direct your Twitter followers to your post-show surveys, and, in general, be prepared to handle these sticky social networking situations in the same way you would if someone called you directly.

Every exchange with a patron, no matter where it happens, is a chance to interact and build a relationship with him or her. Your patrons will form opinions of your customer service based on how ably you respond to them on Twitter and Facebook. Generally speaking, a few kind words will suffice. Or, if you’re really feeling motivated, a pie is nice, too.

Learn More about PatronManager, the powerful CRM platform that helps you sell more tickets, raise more money, and cultivate stronger bonds with your audience, all in one database.