Web care Archetypes: The replier


Imagine that you have a question and send it out on Twitter and instead of somebody really helping you to get to an answer you would prefer (or at least some kind of answer), you get a reply that is basically a non-reply. It is just somebody ticking all the boxes of having handled the message on Twitter, however it isn’t an answer it is just a message pointing you elsewhere, or it so generic that you can do anything with it.

This type of response only leads to more frustration, however since the replying twitter account is just ticking its boxes there is hardly any real response to this frustration, it will just keep on ticking boxes and follow to process and give boilerplate answers or direct you to places on the Web.


The replier is often the outcome of a very hierarchical organisation or an organisation in  public services. Strongly process oriented and highly risk averse. It is all about following the process itself and make sure it is completely compliant, user experience is not important, unless it is factored into the process however that is seldom the case since a poor user experience if often not perceived as a risk.

There is no focus on efficiency, as in getting to a solution in the first interaction, again it is the process dictating the next action and the process is just there to avoid any risks that might occur during the interaction with a customer.

How to make it better

Interaction is not a risk, it is an opportunity. As soon as somebody is reaching out to you it means that they have an interest. Whether it is about information, about an issue they experience or anything else, they take the effort to reach out to you. Don’t slap them with your processes and procedures, though use your processes and procedures as a guidance, not as the only way of working.

Often the risk is overestimated, since how often is an organisation being ‘killed’ due to one poor response on social media, you might get grilled for a day or two at most but after a while everybody forgot about it and gets on with his or her life. If things would have been really bad due to social media United would be bankrupt and Domino’s would have stopped selling pizzas. Given that these two companies still exist, don’t worry too much about the risks, focus on the opportunity.

Therefore don’t be to risk averse, trying to avoid risks by having aforementioned procedures in place might even increase the risk of dissatisfied customers and providing you with bigger issues than you had. Focus on the customer instead, since social media is about the customers, it is not about you.