Best Buy to Expand Twitter-Based Customer Service to Facebook

— October 10, 2010

Apparently 140 characters aren't enough to provide all the customer service required by Best Buy shoppers. The retailer will expand Twelpforce, which allows the retailer's employees to answer customer questions via Twitter, to Facebook and possibly other social media platforms within the next 12 months.

According to published reports, Twelpforce staffers have answered more than 36,000 queries since the service was launched 14 months ago. In addition, 36,000 consumers have clicked on the links included in those answers and landed on BestBuy.com, according to John Bernier, manager of social and emerging media at Best Buy.

But Twelpforce accounts for only a small number of all the retailer's customer service calls. That's in part due to Twitter's limitations: with only 140 characters per Tweet, there's not enough room to give a detailed answer about complex consumer electronics. That's why nearly every Twelpforce-supplied answer includes a link to a Best Buy informational site, typically www.bbyfeed.com, or the retailer's community forum, www.forums.bestbuy.com.

Another limitation is that only about 7% of the U.S. population currently uses the Twitter platform, according to Edison Research. So Best Buy plans to expand Twelpforce, or a variation of it, to additional social media platforms such as Facebook. The expansion will occur within the next 12 months, according to Bernier.

Best Buy is in the midst of developing an internal system that would make it possible for employees to answer customers' questions in whatever medium or platform they are posed. Bernier is quoted as saying he doesn't want someone to have to leave Facebook to answer a question, but to be able to ask it from there.

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