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The number of big companies trying to use Twitter to interact with consumers and customers in new and innovative ways is growing almost daily.
One of the companies that stands out as doing something really interesting is hotel chain Hyatt.
Its Twitter concierge service enables twittering hotel guests to tweet concerns, questions or requests to @HyattConcierge. Manned 24x7 by Hyatt's customer service team, @HyattConcierge is quite simply Twitter's first real concierge. If you're staying at a Hyatt hotel in New York, for instance, and want a recommendation for a great Italian restaurant nearby, just tweet. Need extra pillows? Send a DM.
It's a great idea and Hyatt should be applauded for going beyond standard Twitter fare and finding a way to offer its guests real value through their interactions with Hyatt on Twitter. But after reading a first-hand account of one Hyatt guest's use of @HyattConcierge, I had to ask the question: is Twitter really an ideal platform for a concierge service?
In his blog post, Shawn Patriquin details how he successfully used @HyattConcierge when staying at the Park Hyatt in Toronto. His initially questions were answered but a follow-up to a restaurant recommendation slipped through the cracks.
As Patriquin realized, "there it was the kink in this innovative move – it doesn’t allow for 2 way conversation with the same agent on the same topic".
In reality, this really isn't a flaw in Hyatt's initiative; it's a flaw in Twitter. On second thought, to be fair to Twitter, it's just that Twitter isn't an ideal platform for holding one-on-one conversations.
So even though Hyatt's use of Twitter is very cool and forward-thinking, I consider that it's hampered by the platform. In short, Twitter just isn't the right tool for an effective, efficient concierge service. Although I'm sure Hyatt can and will improve how it addresses Twitter's limitations, that still won't change the fact that Twitter and concierges just don't go hand and hand.
Personally, I'd much rather speak by phone with a concierge. It's instantaneous (provided that someone is there to answer the phone) and a 'conversation' that's hard to fit into 140 characters (eg. I have specific needs that need to be detailed) can be handled with much less strain on my vocabulary. Additionally, when I'm on vacation, whenever possible, my laptop is typically stowed away and my cell phone is turned off. Indeed, one of the purposes of a vacation, for me at least, is to escape technology.
Does this mean that Hyatt's Twitter program is a waste? Of course not. It's an additional option for the most connected of Hyatt's guests. I'm sure Hyatt isn't going to ditch its concierge desk or E-Concierge service, but whether Twitter makes for a better investment than its existing concierge offerings and customer service is something that Hyatt should evaluate.
For smaller companies, such an evaluation should be done before jumping in. Provide support and customer service through Twitter poses specific challenges and for businesses that don't have significant resources, training staff to deal specifically with certain platforms may or may not make sense.
Photo credit: DiscoverDuPage via Flickr.