Tweet tweet

March 7, 2013


Well this is very interesting: why on earth not?

Confidentiality? Well they could warn (on their profile, for example) that twitter is a public medium and people mustn’t post their own (or anyone else’s!) details on it.

Complexity? Try explaining capital allowances in 140 characters or fewer! But they could, surely, answer generic factual questions. 140 characters isn’t much to work with, but it’s enough to give simple yes/no answers or links to their website or the relevant call centre phone numbers.

I suspect that it’s not so much “can’t” as “won’t”, as in, HMRC can’t respond to your queries via Twitter because it won’t put enough resource into monitoring and responding to its twitter feed, so it’s not going even to try.

But why can’t it be covered by the same people who answer call centre queries? They could have twitter-monitoring duties for half an hour at a time on a rota, and it might be quite an interesting addition to their duties. And I imagine that most of the possible queries could be answered from pre-scripted material, much as I imagine they have scripts for what to say to people when they phone up?

I wonder whether there’s some queasiness about the speed of twitter and the way a badly-worded tweet can create a twitter storm before your press office have noticed there’s a problem, and they are thinking it needs to be communications professionals who monitor the twitter feed, rather than the people who deal with the actual customer on a day to day basis?

Because, if so, that would be a mistake – twitter seems to me to be the place where customer service meets the future. If you have people dealing one to one with customers and they are going to be rude to the individual customer, or give them incorrect information, or misunderstand their enquiries, or otherwise give them bad service, well, you need to know that’s happening. And then stop it. Twitter can help you do that, on fast forward. But equally if you’ve got – as I suspect HMRC has – customer service people who are fully capable of giving good service, with a bit of wit thrown in, then you need to trust them to run with it and take your service up a level. Twitter can help you do that, too, on steroids. Come on, HMRC, jump in!

This post is the third of ten posts I intend to write between now and Red Nose day.  If you feel like supporting me with a morsel of sponsorship, my JustGiving page can be found here.  And thank you!

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