"Your Call Is Sort Of Important to Us. Please Tweet or Text For Prompter Service."

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TwitterIt's no secret that no one likes waiting on hold for a customer service representative -- but it happens all the time. According to a recent survey of 500 consumers by ResearchNow for TalkTo, more than 85 percent of people say they are put on hold every time they call a business.

Half of them spend, on average, 10 to 20 minutes on hold per week, which amounts to 13 hours per year or about 43 days over a typical lifetime. And when they finally get someone on the phone, 48 percent of survey respondents say the people they talk to aren't helpful.

Fortunately, businesses today have more options than simply spending more money to hire more phone representatives to be available for customers. Facebook, Twitter and even texting are the new avenues companies are turning to for handling customer queries.

Tweet Your Troubles Away

Follow the Twitter feeds of many companies and you'll spot interactions with customers there. For example, click into @MaytagCare's Twitter feed, and you'll spot exchanges such as this:
  • @jan_kenny @MaytagCare - note to self -- dishwasher uses water, b smart, include protection for electrical parts to stay dry & not break 3 yr later
  • @MaytagCare @jan_kenny Sorry to hear about the concern. You're welcome to follow & [direct-message us your] name, address, phone # and the model&serial # s for us to review.
Here's an example from Sodastream International (SODA):

  • @momofbnl "@SodaStreamUSA: RT if you've registered your SodaStream at http://www.sodastreamusa.com for your free gift!" I did but have not got anything yet!!!
  • @SodaStreamUSA @momofbnl Don't worry Missy, it will be sent to you in the mail. It takes about 2 months to process and ship. :)
Notice, too, that via Twitter, many companies are able to be proactive -- surprising customers with responses.

TalkTo addresses the problem of being put on eternal hold via an app that lets people text businesses. It's not such a crazy idea since, according to the ResearchNow survey more than 61 percent of 20-somethings send more than 50 texts each week, and 25 percent of 40-somethings send between 26 and 50.

However companies go about it, it's good business to minimize customer aggravation and maximize good feelings.

Motley Fool contributor Selena Maranjian (@SelenaMaranjian) has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Facebook and SodaStream. The Motley Fool owns shares of Facebook and SodaStream.

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