Why WooThemes is Smart to Discontinue Its Twitter Support

woo-support-twitter-account

WooThemes announced this week that it will be retiring @WooSupport, its Twitter support account, in favor of other support channels. Social media manager Marina Pape reports that support at the company is otherwise healthy. “On the contrary, our support is cooking with Customer Happiness this week averaging 90%, all support teams coming in under 24 hours for first-reply time,” she said.

WooThemes, like many other WordPress product and service providers, had expanded channels to try to offer support on as many different social channels as possible. Last October, the company announced changes in its support structure:

We’re opening more and more avenues of communication like the Community, the @WooSupport Twitter handle, and a streamlined Knowledge Base, as well as actively monitoring our social media and ideas boards. You name it, we’re working on it.

Over the past several months, WooThemes has discovered that offering Twitter support is more trouble than it’s worth. “Questions get technical and DMs and 140 characters are not ideal facilitators of such things,” Pape said in the announcement.

“Yes, we want to encourage conversation. Yes, we want to have an ear to the ground and be able to help people when the rubber hits the road for them and escalate tickets if people have been waiting for unusually long periods,” she said. “But the truth of the matter is Twitter is not the place to handle support queries and when we try we shoot ourselves in the collective foot.”

WooThemes is making a smart move to pull back from a medium that wasn’t built to handle complex support queries. Instead of spreading staff thin over every social avenue, the company is concentrating on channeling users through an established ticketing system that is already working.

While anyone can use Twitter for whatever purpose, within its 140 character limit, the brevity that the medium was designed for is not a good fit for managing support. If users find frustration in communicating within Twitter’s limited capacity, support on this channel is a waste of company time and resources.

“But after letting @WooSupport run for a while, we realized what it was actually doing was creating an expectation that we never intended to meet which was that we were able to actually give support over Twitter,” Pape explained. “140 characters are not enough to talk about the weather let alone why your custom-built-million-moving-parts website is breaking.”

WooThemes is opting to limit support to its ZenDesk ticketing system, instead of having social media managers playing middleman via tweets. “DMs on Twitter to get details and sort out problems is akin to birthing pineapples,” Pape said. Encouraging the ticketing system as the primary avenue of support is a move toward greater efficiency.

WordPress hosting companies and product/service providers would do well to examine how they are using their various social channels and whether or not some could be trimmed back in favor of more suitable mediums for communication. Cutting out Twitter support may not be the answer for every product or customer demographic, but being “always on” and “always available” via every channel is not a realistic approach to support.

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9 Comments


  1. I give them credit for at least trying to give support over Twitter, but it’s a medium filled with frustration just trying to have a normal conversation. How they managed to use it for support for so long is beyond me. Twitter is great for establishing an open and immediate line of communication, but terrible for offering support.

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  2. You could still use it to direct people to the right support channel though?

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    1. I think they mentioned that having the support twitter account made it appear as though they were capable of offering support via twitter, and that was kind of the point. They wanted to remove that expectation.

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  3. The question is why their support channel even started in October of 2014??? It was very clear even then that Twitter is not THE channel to give proper user support. It really surprises me, I remember Woo as a company who rather streamlines support to one channel than to open even more.

    So closing this stream seems fully logical to me.

    I speak from my own experience: user support on Twitter is horrible, I got contacts from time to time but handling over there is difficult.

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  4. It drives me batty that the only way to contact Hootsuite support is through Twitter (they follow up by opening a ticket through email — but still, UGH).

    100% agree, customer support through twitter is not good for anyone — the users or we support folks in the trenches.

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  5. Handling user support over Twitter was an own goal in the first place. Dealing with frustrated users with limited technical skills out in the open is just not going to be pretty.

    Good use of Twitter for support are status updates for services which might go down temporarily (hosting, online services).

    I think Woo might have been quieter about shutting down the channel but it looks like the person who took over managing support wanted to distance herself from her predecessors publicly.

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  6. This makes sense. Twitter is not the tool for offering tech support. Rather, it is best suited for making announcements or promos. We also struggled with offering support via Twitter and eventually abandoned it.

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  7. Once we found HelpScout, we moved all our support there. We’ve never been a fan of the “forum style” support method. The easiest way for customers to connect with a brand is typically via email, an asynchronous medium that they have access to most of the time. HelpScout gives us all the tools we need to communicate with both customers and internal support staff efficiently. It’s really helped us install a proper support process that works well for everyone involved and we couldn’t be happier with it.

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