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How @AskAmex Crushes Customer Service on Twitter

Customer service on Twitter is a central focus for most large brands. It’s a public forum that allows consumers to voice opinions that aren’t always positive or friendly. In our recent study of the Interbrand 100 Companies, we found that only 32% of the top brands in the world are using dedicated customer service handles.

The full study is available as a free download here, but lets take a look at one of the top performers from the study. Which brand is doing it the best? To answer that, you’ll have to Ask Amex:

American Express Customer Care

Screenshot 2014-04-08 08.27.20
American Express has adopted a customer service handle, @AskAmex, to answer customer support issues. The account currently has 47.1K followers and answers questions on everything from card-member benefit questions, to account issues, to questions about contests and promotions.

Response Rates for @AskAmex

We ran a Simply Measured Twitter Customer Service analysis on the @AskAmex handle to find trends in both customer requests and customer service. Looking at the Twitter Account Activity and Engagement report, it’s clear that during the first week of 2013, the @AskAmex account had around 800 mentions (excluding retweets) and at the highest point, was receiving around 24,255 mentions (in the beginning of December). This is an unbelievable number – an increase of almost 3000% shows how well American Express has done in driving adoption of the @AskAmex handle by its user base.

Twitter Account Activity 2

How follower counts impact response rate

Looking at the follower count for @AskAmex, we see that the follower number jumped up in the same week they saw a spike in mentions, adding an extra 1,107 followers to the account. This shows the obvious challenges in trying to respond to every customer’s needs during periods with large numbers of customer service issues.

To confirm this assumption we looked at the Response Frequency by Follower Count and found that as the customer service request load grew, the response frequency dropped from 80% to 14%. Since many mentions don’t warrant a response, we can assume that with the huge jump in mentions, the @AskAmex account became more selective about when it responded and who it responded to.

It’s also very likely that not all of the followers added mentioned the @AskAmex handle specifically for a customer service request. More importantly, a number of the mentions of the customer service handle also came from other American Express handles like @AmericanExpress and @AmexServe, or other companies altogether, which would influence response rate.

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Effectively managing response times

The @AskAmex account performed well in response time. 76% of customer service responses from the handle happened in 30 minutes or less. Even accounting for longer response times – for example, after hours – the average response time per mention is only 189 minutes (just over 3 hours). This means that there are enough customer service representatives on staff to keep the response time low. We can also assume a number of the responses are canned – that @AskAmex has a standard policy on how to
respond to these requests.

Brand Response Time 2

We can correlate this data with the company’s business hours. Between 8:00 am and 8:00 pm, we found that the brand was able to handle a proportionate number of mentions in a low response time.

Twitter Account Activity by Hour 2

@AskAmex also does a great job of alerting their customers to when the account is staffed, using Tweets like the following:

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Here, they are setting expectations for when the customer service account is staffed which reduces the amount of mentions after hours. If we correlate this to the above chart, we can assume that because @AskAmex lets their followers know when the account is staffed, the users who follow the customer service handle do not send in many requests after hours.

For brands that do not staff a customer service handle around the clock, this is a great example of ways to manage outliers that could skew reporting.

Directing users to the customer service handle

American Express uses several different handles for several areas of business, but users often direct their questions to the handle they converse with the most. Each handle is diligent in making sure they route these users to the customer service handle when appropriate.

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Next Steps

To learn what other top brands are doing with their Twitter customer service programs, and a bonus 7 step guide to managing your own customer service handle, download the full study for FREE today:

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Kevin Shively

I lead marketing for Simply Measured. Recovering journalist. My team is embarrassed of my hilarious jokes. Firm believer that the best marketers are the best storytellers and the best storytellers use the best data.

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