Everything You Need To Know About Twitter For Customer Service + 10 Brands Doing It Well
Twitter is a wonderful tool, but one way in which brands are using it and adding great value to their social media activity is by using it as a customer service tool.
Customers will often turn to the medium first to vent about their frustrations around customer service or a new product, and the shrewd brands are there in place with a team of people to answer all queries and to help create brand loyalty. In some cases, companies are able to use it as a cost-cutting exercise with queries handled faster online and calls deflected from customer service numbers and other costly channels.
Beyond the basic functionality it offers, Twitter is still limited in terms of the premium features it offers brands, but there are a number of hacks and third party tools that you can use to help improve your customer service and Twitter themselves will be rolling out additional features over time. Until Twitter does that, however, you will need to work with what you have so here are a number of ways and examples you can use to improve customer service.
Tips For Using Twitter For Customer Service
While Twitter’s functionality is rather limited in comparison to other sites, there are a number of ways you can improve interaction and ensure that customers leave with a positive experience. Here’s what you should keep in mind.
Using Apps like Tweetdeck
If you’re going to understand your customers, you will need to see what they’re saying. Not everyone is going to mention your twitter handle so to get a clear picture of what people are saying, you will need monitoring tools to help you out. The most popular one would be Tweetdeck which lets you view numerous streams at once. By typing in your company name, you can see what mentions, links and comments people are making about your business. There are many other third-party apps and analytics out there so try them out and see what fits best.Respond At Speed
A simple but effective way to build trust and provide a positive experience. If you see somebody asking a question, don’t leave it until tomorrow. Respond as soon as possible. Even if you don’t have an immediate answer to their question, it’s much better to show that you’ve seen their tweet and are working to solve their problem.
Never Let Customers Reveal Their Private Details
Relating to the last point, never let a customer reveal private or potentially private information publicly. The obvious examples are bank account details, passwords and addresses, but also things like phone numbers, account names (if it’s about an online platform) and email would also apply. Put yourself in their shoes: If you don’t feel comfortable sharing something, chances are your customers feel the same way.
Be Polite And Courteous
A basic TIP, but always make sure that the tone you use is polite, even when somebody is criticising your company. It can take one bad tweet to tarnish your reputation so make sure you’re taking the moral high ground when dealing with complaints. Also, if you’re getting heated up, remember that you’re not expected to reply straight away so use those minutes to regroup and get your thoughts together before replying.
Place Your Twitter Handle In Prominent Locations
Twitter’s a fast and snappy way of responding to queries so if you use it for customer service ,direct people to it. Your own site is an obvious place to highlight this, but also use your other social media channels and emails to show this as well. For people to use it, they need to be aware of it so don’t neglect promoting it.
Create A Separate Customer Service Twitter Account
If you’re a bigger company and you’re getting a lot of mentions and comments, it might be best to create two separate accounts to make things more manageable. This way, you’ll be able to have one platform for dealing with queries and questions, and another to help promote the site.
Another simple but effective tip, always make sure you’re responding to people when they tweet and do it regularly. Nobody will comment or respond to a dormant account or one that is only active when it feels like it.
Personalise The Experience
Most companies tend to be faceless corporate identities, but if you make things a little more human, it can have a positive effect. A good way is to put the first name at the end of said tweets so people know there’s a person behind the response. If you wanted to take things a step further, you could include your twitter handle instead. One good example is Triberr who place the twitter handles of their two co-founders on its bio so people know who’s responding.
Create An FAQ From Common Questions
If you’re receiving a number of queries and questions, you will probably notice a few appearing regularly. If that’s the case, instead of answering the same question over and over again, create an FAQ that answers this. Most people will look through your site first when looking for information so an FAQ will free up more time for you to focus on the less common questions.
Know When To Move Problems On
Sometimes it isn’t always possible to solve a problem on Twitter and when that happens, be sure to direct them to an email account or phone number to rectify the problem. You can use Twitter as a way to direct people to other help services so don’t try to solve a problem in 140 characters if it requires far more than that.
Use Direct Messages (DM)
Chances are somebody will have a complaint or problem that you need to sort out. Most of the time, this can be resolved within one or two tweets, but if it gets particularly heated or involves personal information, it’s best to make it a private conversation between yourself and the other party. Remember that to send DMs, both parties need to be following each other so make sure this is the case before doing anything. Use The Bio To Your Advantage
You can also use the bio to say who normally runs the account. Placing the names or twitter bios of the person/people running the account can make things more personable and will make users more inclined to comment or tweet you.
State When You’re Open
Unless you’re a massive company with offices in different parts of the world, chances are you’re only going to be monitoring your Twitter account during working hours. If so, place said times on your Twitter bio to avoid confusion. Also, make sure you include the time zone too as you could very easily have customers from abroad trying to reach you.
Something brands tend to forget is that when the problem is solved, there’s still opportunity to interact with people. If you’ve solved a problem or redirected someone to another area, make a note of their username and a week later, send them a tweet to see how things are going. It’s the little things that will endear you to your fan base and will get you good publicity sooner or later.
Ten Brands Doing Customer Service Right
There are many examples of brands doing customer service on Twitter, but fewer are getting it right. Since people learn a lot more from example than through theory, here are some brands that are getting customer service on Twitter right:
Zappos Customer Service
The shoe company makes sure that its customer service team says who they are as they address all queries and comments. As well as placing their team in the background image, it also injects some personality into its tweets by asking users to tweet in pirate talk and talking about the latest sport events.
Hertz makes sure that it responds to all questions from its customers, always stating who the message is from by placing their initials at the end of each tweet. Each member has their initials on the background image so you know exactly who you’re talking to.
UPS Customer Support
UPS state what times their customer support account is open for so that customers know when to expect a response. It also follows the same principal as Hertz and Zappos by placing their team’s names and photos in the background image.
Best Buy (twelpforce)
Best Buy’s Twelpforce does its best to answer any tech-related queries and brings all the different services together. While it tweets in different languages, it makes sure that its answers are as comprehensive as possible.
Since Uber is a mobile service, it follows up on customer queries by asking how their experience was, getting feedback and interacting with their customers to create a welcoming service.
The Guinness world record holder for most responsive brand on Twitter certainly lives up to its name by making sure everyone gets a response, even going as far to respond to people who mention Xbox in passing.
Southern Electric not only provides help on its Twitter page, but also provides alternatives for contacting them on its background image. It also states times for contacting them clearly so there is no confusion.
Not only does Royal Mail personalise its tweets and respond to queries, but the account is incredibly funny. It’s also a massive fan of (bad) puns, which is always a good sign.
The financial brand has its own customer service account, which it updates quite regularly. With 18 different people servicing its account, it ensures that everybody gets a response, no matter how trivial it may seem.
One of the biggest technology companies in the world has its own support service. While it does use it to promote its services, it always finds the time to help customers out with their devices.
Twitter For Customer Service – Talks
Brands know that if they provide wonderful customer service via Twitter, they will get large numbers of fans. In effect, they will become brand advocates who will help spread the good word about your company. Although the channel is often used as a customer service tool, it can also be flipped to push out marketing messages in the future.
A great example of this 360 degree approach is this campaign from KLM that was designed to not only highlight its wonderful customer service, but to also acquire new followers.
Loic Le Meur
The founder of Seemics and the brains behind Le Web and Le Web London Loic Le Meur talks about customer service in a world where Twitter and social media is king.
With almost 1.2 million followers, the former chief evangelist for Apple talks to our friends from PR Daily about social media and customer service and why more brands should use Twitter for it.
The CEO of Salesforce Marc Benioff talks with the then head of products for Twitter Jason Goldman about the benefits of combining real-time Twitter conversations with customer service.
Twitter Case Studies & Resources
While most brands have been adapting the site’s features and apps to suit their needs, some of the biggest brands in the world have been doing this for a while. There’s a lot to learn from them so here are some case studies that show how they have built up a large and loyal following:
- Virgin America used promoted tweets and promoted trends to help improve its customer experience in the U.S.
- A short case study from ActiveRain shows how cable operator Comcast shows how the company uses Twitter to improve engagement with its customers.
- New Retail Blog highlights how successful Best Buy’s Twelpforce is by using Twitter as a service tool instead of focusing on promotion.
- Another short but personal case study, this time looking at @Firefox_Answers and the importance of a speedy reply.
- Disqus also scored some brownie points by showing incredible awareness as one blogger tried to integrate it into a custom site template.
- Kyle Lacy lists off 25 case studies that used Twitter to increase its business and sales, most notable are the case studies involving JetBlue, American Apparel and Pepsi.
- Another case study from Zappos who provide a Slideshare presentation on extending the customer experience.
- Bloomberg’s Businessweek talk to Comcast’s customer service manager Frank Eliason about his work and shows how his day pans out.
- SproutInsights gives its own tips – six to be exact – for growing customer service over Twitter.
- FreshDesk put together its own slides and presentation about improving customer service with Twitter and how companies are enhancing their experience through it.