Using Twitter for customer service

Social media has changed the way businesses talk to their customers and some are now turning to Twitter for customer service. It’s free but is it effective?

Twitter for customer service on a mobile

Businesses are moving to online platforms to handle customer service. Paid-for services like Zendesk offer software to communicate with customers and track queries.

Some businesses, on the other hand, have turned to Twitter to meet customer service needs for free. We look at just what using Twitter for customer service really means.

Instant gratification and accountability

When consumers have an issue, Twitter provides instant gratification by addressing the problem in real time.

Response times vary for different businesses, but people get a sense of catharsis from making the problem public. Being acknowledged by other customers or businesses in a public forum lends to a feeling of accountability.

The business of using Twitter for customer service

The truth is that if your business has a Twitter account, you already offer customer service via Twitter. Customers see it as a direct link to your company and they expect a response to their tweets.

Many companies form a separate account to handle the increased amount of contact. It’s important to establish:

  • What hours you will respond during
  • What the max delay in response time will be
  • Tailored and repeatable methods for resolving different types of complaints

Third party services also exist that offer ways to extend your company’s reach, find problems voiced on other accounts about your product and analyse satisfaction.

Personality and assistance

Customer service on Twitter must be conversational and approachable.

The personality behind your online account determines the customer’s satisfaction with the exchange. Personality carries the same weight in a call centre, but after navigating automated systems and wait times, personality is only a part of the outcome. On Twitter, personality becomes everything.

The account operator must be educated, excited to help and have authority or access to provide solutions. Let customers know who in the company is answering them either with a name or initials, even a picture.

The relationship of customer service

Another advantage of using Twitter for customer service is the ability to initiate communication about problems or to make announcements about issues.

Taking and responding to questions, listening to complaints, giving answers and communicating changes that will affect customers will build trust and demonstrate that you are proactive rather than reactive around service issues.

Together, the personality of your company and the conversations you have on Twitter will form the basis of your customers’ relationship with you and can help to create loyal customers.

And of course…

The obvious benefit of using Twitter to monitor and handle customer queries and complaints is that it’s free.  For the small business, the ability to personally take questions or concerns and turn them into a real time positive exchange is invaluable.

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