Your Guide to Using Twitter for Effective Customer Service

It’s no surprise that social media is becoming a crucial, and often a primary, way for businesses to engage with their customers. It’s quick, easy and direct and when managed properly, can be a great asset for businesses.

There is no longer room to negotiate on whether or not businesses should be using social media, and particularly, whether they should be utilising it for customer service – it appears to be a given. A lack of “ownership and and understanding” of social media could “see brands fall behind in the overall customer service stakes” according to Forrester.

Research by Forrester and Conversocial found that although the number of customers using Twitter for customer service doubled to 22% between 2009 and 2012, users still rate the overall customer service experience via phone, websites, emails and IM/SMS rather than through social channels such as Twitter and Facebook, as a result of poor social media management.

The growing popularity and ubiquity of social media channels means that businesses have a great opportunity to respond to, and engage with, customers in real-time. It’s no longer acceptable to simply use social to listen to your customers – businesses need a strategy to ensure they’re keeping up with the customer service revolution and effectively using social media to drive satisfaction and loyalty.

So how can you use Twitter for effective customer service?

  1. Be alert

Social media is immediate and public: one bad experience left unmanaged can cause a ripple throughout the social space. Neglect social and you could be neglecting your brand.

To utilise your Twitter platform effectively, you will need to track and monitor mentions. It’s no good sitting around and waiting for the tweets to come to you. Instead, track the business name, relevant hashtags, and conversations that could help you engage with those customers who may not have directly tweeted you. Through keeping an active eye on what’s being said about you and your services or products, you can respond in a timely and efficient manner, which leads me on to the second key point…

  1. Don’t leave customers waiting

Research from The Social Habit highlighted that today’s connected consumers expects a swift response, with 42% expecting a response within 60 minutes and 32% expecting one within 30 minutes! However in reality, customers are often left waiting. Research by BDRC Continental found that some brands are keeping customers hanging on for up to 19 hours for a reply. Customers often turn to social media because the business has already failed to satisfy their needs, leaving them waiting will either see increased dissatisfaction or a lost customer. Managing your customer service effectively also means managing customer expectations – and they expect a speedy response!

  1. Take inspiration from the greats (and the not-so-greats)!

Social media triumphs and blunders are everywhere – a quick Google search will bring up a whole host of social successes and fails. Although it’s proof that even the giants of the business world can get it wrong, it’s a great chance to learn from their mistakes.

For example, Zara, came up against considerable online criticism towards the end of last year following a series of mistakes. First came the fashion blunder (a baby’s pyjama top that has been likened to clothes worn by Jewish concentration camp prisoners) and then came the awful example of customer service.

Instead of turning to Twitter in order to rectify the issue in a personalised and thoughtful way, they responded to each tweet with exactly the same response. On one hand this could ensure a timely response, but it that really all customers are looking for?

Ultimately, customers are looking for honest, helpful, and friendly engagement. Each tweet, whether good or bad, is an opportunity to develop a real relationship with the user, which could turn a complaint into custom or a customer into a brand advocate.

Customer service itself hasn’t changed – just the way in which it’s managed. Take to Twitter to listen to, understand and care for your customers and you’re well on the way to customer service success!