Apple is finally warming up to social media and this week took to Twitter with a new customer service and outreach tool. Apple's @AppleSupport account went live yesterday, and within 24 hours it amassed 125,000 followers and tweeted more than 2,400 times, an average of roughly 5,200 new followers and 100 tweets per hour.
Apple says the account will be live every day from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m PST. Support representatives will answer questions and provide tips, tricks and other information. One of the team's first tweets referenced a tutorial on how to create checklists in the Notes app.
"Every customer service department has to balance the ways people have to reach them, from retail to phone to Web chat to Twitter, and it seems as though Apple is ready to shift the balance a little," says Jan Dawson, chief analyst and founder of tech research firm Jackdaw. "Twitter is particularly good for spotting customer service issues that might never reach a formal customer service channel, too, so it can help to defuse some poor experiences before they get too out of hand."
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Apple's Twitter customer support team responds to queries by directing some users to Web pages that can help resolve issues, and it also reaches out to individuals via direct messages. Apple appears to have handled its first day of support requests well, but the level of activity will likely increase dramatically as customers become aware of this new support option. "Apple has the potential to drive the largest volumes of any customer service operation on Twitter, so they definitely need to make sure they have the resources to manage that," Dawson says. "If there's a perception the account is unresponsive, that will quickly cause problems."
Apple will also have to strategically manage the cumbersome nature of back-and-forth Twitter conversations, according to Dawson. And more complex problems will likely be directed to support other channels, such as in-store or phone-support staff, he says.