Social media is increasingly becoming the go-to place for customers who want to reach out to brands with their enquiries, feedback and suggestions.
If you are like most companies, you are relying more and more on your social media responses to maintain a good relationship with your customers, increase brand loyalty and help your customer retention.
No platform is more rife with customer service than Twitter. It’s short character limit allows for efficient dialogue, encouraging customers to get to the root of their issue and brands to give straightforward replies. The fact that Twitter is a public platform means that everyone can see brand responses, allowing it to serve as a kind of FAQ forum to help other customers too. And on top of this, Twitter’s real-time nature gives the expectation of immediate help from brands. Six out of ten users expect a company to respond to them on Twitter within an hour.
If you need help getting started with customer service on social media or are struggling to manage your responses, look no further. Here are 10 top tips for improving your support using Twitter.
USE A CUSTOMER SERVICE DASHBOARD
No matter how organised you may think you are, you cannot expect to manage responses to customers on Twitter ad hoc without having some blunders. You need a system that allows you to monitor which customers you have replied to, who you have mentioned, who you have already had an interaction with before and who you haven’t. Luckily, there are plenty of social media management systems out there which allow you to have an overview of all customer enquiries and, mentions so that you can coordinate your responses and get the most out of relationship-building opportunities. Both Hootsuite and Buffer are popular platforms to make sure your Twitter customer service runs as seamlessly as possible.
ALWAYS RESPOND TO NEGATIVE FEEDBACK
When a customer is royally ticked off, unfortunately ignoring the problem and hoping it goes away isn’t really an option. Whether they are rightfully angry because they found a toenail in their burger or they seem to just fancy having a rant, keeping quiet could lose you a customer forever or blow the problem up into viral reputational damage. Your job is to get that person back on your side by taking their criticism seriously and trying to resolve the issue. Giving a calm, logical response that genuinely tries to help them could win you their loyalty for life. At the very least, it will show any other users watching the conversation that you are trying your best.
As mentioned above, immediate responses from brands is something that customers expect on a real-time platform like Twitter. You may not be able to get back to everyone within seconds but being as quick as you can shows your customers that they are important to you and you are listening to them. As a consequence, they will have more trust and confidence in you as a reliable brand (and get much less upset about any negative experience they might have had). A good practice is letting customers know when you need more time to find the answer to their query – give them a quick reply to say that you are working on it and will get back to them as soon as possible with your solution.
KNOW WHEN TO MOVE OFF TWITTER
While the character limit on Twitter allows for concise problem-solving (which you should always aim for) there will nevertheless be times when you need to have a much longer conversation with a customer. Moving the conversation off your Twitter feed and into direct messages gives you 10,000 characters to work with as well as making your discussion private rather than public. This is especially helpful if somebody has a very serious issue with your product or service that you don’t want the whole world to know about. Ask them to DM you the details so that you can help them resolve the problem more efficiently, while also taking it out of the public eye.
TRACK YOUR MENTIONS
The quicker you can see that your brand has been mentioned, the quicker you can send them your thanks, apologies or solution and show everyone on Twitter that you value your customers. Your Twitter notifications will alert you when you have a new direct mention but these are only some of the mentions that you need to be aware of. You should also keep on track of tweets that use the hashtag of your brand name, mention your brand name without a direct “@“ plus any common misspellings of your brand name. If you want to go the extra mile, you can also monitor when people are talking about the products or services that you sell and use these observations as free market research.
DON’T BE INTRUSIVE
Tracking indirect mentions of your brand name or products allows you to see and respond to people saying things relevant to your brand even when they haven’t actually tagged you in their tweet. While this can be a great opportunity to delight customers with helpful information, not everyone likes brands to surprise them with an intrusion into their conversation. “Silence Brand” was a meme trend earlier this year, which gives an indication of just how unpopular brand interference can be. The best thing to do is only chime in if you are genuinely providing something of value, rather than just butting into discussions without any benefit to the users.
GO THE EXTRA MILE
Twitter is all about being in the moment and as a brand this allows you to seize opportunities to wow your customers with your support that shows how much they mean to you. Someone tweeted that they just got back to their desk to find you gave them the wrong lunch order? Arrange for the right food to be delivered to their office right away. Someone tweeted that they really want a product which is currently unavailable? Organise for it to be sent to them as soon as it’s back in stock. Going above and beyond will earn you brand loyalty from that customer (and from everyone else on Twitter who saw your good deed) as well as helping you reach new customers by word-of-mouth. You’ve just created a story to tell where your brand is a hero!
Part of the reason why customers reach out to brands on social media platforms like Twitter is so that they can avoid automated robots at the end of a phone line or copy and pasted email replies. They want to talk to a real person! Twitter is a place where you can be much more informal and conversational with your responses – sometimes even entertaining, if that’s part of your brand personality. Chat to customers who reach out to you rather than giving them template responses and use their first names as well as their handle when possible. You can even decide to sign off your replies with your name too, so that they know exactly who they’re talking to in your team.
KNOW WHERE YOUR BRAND STANDS
Sometimes it’s necessary to give customers a pre-planned response on Twitter – sensitive topics have to be handled with care. Having a guide on how your brand deals with certain issues helps your social media managers or customer response team stay consistent with your brand values and tone of voice, and ensures they avoid any inaccuracies when talking to customers about tricky topics. This doesn’t mean giving customers industry jargon rather than a real conversation, however. If you are going to script some of your replies, make sure that they still have a casual feel to them and that they leave room for customisation.
STAY OPEN AND HONEST
Honesty is key to any customer support, but perhaps even more so when your responses are as public as they are on Twitter. The last thing you want is to get caught trying to cover up a mistake or giving out false information to get your brand out of a sticky situation. Being transparent will build trust in your brand, even if it sometimes means admitting to things that you’re not doing right. Stick to the truth, appreciate people’s suggestions and give them explanations when they ask for them. While your customers might not always like what they hear, they will respect you for being open.