Can I help you? On Twitter, the answer is no.

Home Can I help you? On Twitter, the answer is no.

Whether you want to start mass protests or you would like to manage a brand crisis, Twitter may help you as a platform.

From event activation to issue advocacy, from product promotions to crisis management, the microblogging platform allows businesses many modes of customer communication that can be tailored to match their customers’ preferences.

Today I tried to get my mailing address changed at my drinking water utility company. Without a chance! Both their telephone helpdesk and the internet was not working ! While I spoke with a customer service officer on the phone he could not take note of my question. So I reached out to their Twitter account [], only to find out that they use that account for promoting their corporate sustainability initiatives.

Truth is: not all companies who could be interacting on social media for customer experience do so yet. Amazon for example won’t use them to respond to customer queries. Our research showed that 11% of companies never reply to consumer service questions on Twitter.

Fortune took 8 companies to the test and compared their customer service efforts via Twitter, on the phone and via internet. Hyatt hotels,Dell, Bank of America and Microsoft are amongst the tested companies.

It’s no secret that we at InSites Consulting are huge fans of Zappos, but in this Fortune test their customer support via @Zappos_Service was somewhat disappointing. The tweeted question was about changing a shipping address on a recently placed order. In a cheerful reply the question was “answered†by forwarding the number to Zappos’ customer service telephone line, asking that official customer service questions be directed through more traditional channels.

The other examples also show that in most cases the old-fashioned, often infuriating, customer service hotline was actually the fastest and most thorough means of solving a problem. The reality is that only the simplest questions can be answered in 140-character messages. And even then, you’re not guaranteed to get a response.