On 21st May 2012 the digital communication team launched DVLA’s Twitter account with the aim of providing customers with helpful information, advice and corporate news. About 6 months later we started to reply to basic customer queries. In most cases, we were able to direct them through to information on GOV.UK for them to self serve, but sometimes we’d ask them to contact us by phone if their issue was complicated or we required their personal details to answer the query – not great customer service.
It was clear to me that the service needed to be improved to allow customers to have their questions answered through Twitter without the need to pick up a phone, that’s when I got in touch with our Contact Centre colleagues. With their staff being fully trained to answer all customer enquiries, it was sensible to approach them to ask for their help improving the customer service we provided on Twitter. I arranged to meet our Contact Centre’s senior management team to show the benefits of using Twitter could have on i) customer satisfaction and ii) reducing calls/complaints.
We discussed what management tools they’d need to have access to Twitter, along with expected response times and training requirements. There were some concerns over the potential for reputational damage if staff tweeted incorrect information. This was overcome through training and an improved robust 2nd eye check. The benefits outweighed the drawbacks and they could see the potential social media had to improve customer service.
To prove the concept worked I arranged for a 2 week pilot exercise, any problems during the week would be used as part of my recommendation report. The statistics following the pilot showed that 100% of the tweets could be answered by Contact Centre staff, we also trialled using the direct message function in Twitter to take complex issues and complaints offline.
A further transition period went smoothly in March, in which I provided an overview and training of the management software we use along with a knowledge transfer of my knowledge and experience to date. It was vital that our language in replies on Twitter are consistent with the channel and audience – the tone is much more relaxed... which can sometimes be a challenge for us civil servants so we follow the social media guidance and Social Media Playbook issued by GDS.
Now that our Contact Centre is answering customer enquiries on Twitter, one of the first central government departments with a large customer base to do so, we’re going to keep monitoring customer satisfaction and improve the service wherever possible. Our aim is to be able to answer customer enquiries without the need to refer them to another channel for an answer – a single contact resolution. It may take some time but we’ll get there!