Paphitis hails Twitter as social media 'power battle' ensues

Retail executive Theo Paphitis has advised retailers to use Twitter as a key customer service tool, but recent research suggests there is lack of ownership and understanding of social media within businesses.

A study by social media cloud solution provider Conversocial, administered by Forrester Consulting, indicated that there was currently a "power struggle" playing out between the marketing and customer service departments, in terms of who controls an organisation's activity on Twitter, Facebook, et al.

Some 67% of the 159 companies interviewed believed that social customer service is growing in importance and the most pressing short-term priority for contact centres in the US and UK, but only a third of the social customer service solutions being used by those interviewed were actually selected by the customer service team.

Retailers of all sizes use social networking sites to promote their products and special offers, but as Specsavers' director of retail communications and customer service, Jill Clark, explained recently, there is a growing trend for consumers to vent their anger on Twitter and Facebook rather than picking up the phone or talking to a member of staff in-store.

Commenting at the British Retail Consortium's annual Retail Symposium, last week, Paphitis said that his opinion of Twitter has changed over time – having once viewed it as a "pain in the backside" because he'd receive messages every time someone had a bad experience in one of his stores.

The Ryman, Robert Dyas and Boux Avenue boss admitted that he has been won over by its power to change customer perception of his brands, suggesting it was important to encourage feedback from shoppers.

Paphitis explained that responding quickly and efficiently to customer complaints or queries via the micro-blogging site can turn complainants into brand ambassadors who are keen to share their experiences of the positive customer service they received.

"It's about listening to people and converting them," he explained.

"The avenues [to communicate with customers] are so much more instant now and they are better than ever before."

Read more on how retail execs use Twitter in this special report from Essential Retail.

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Forrester Consulting

British Retail Consortium