Have you ever spent half an hour on hold trying to contact your cable company? Or maybe you’ve waited for days to get a response to an email you sent the customer service department of an online store to check the status of your order. These situations happen every day and it leaves customers feeling ignored, powerless and frustrated. However, thanks to the connectivity created by social media, customer service has changed drastically. The days of the voiceless customer are over.
Instead of privately contacting businesses, consumers are turning to Twitter to voice their issues publicly. As a result, social customer service needs to be a top priority for your business. Here are some powerful stats that show how important it is to service your customers on Twitter.
- 67% of consumers have used a company’s social media site for servicing.
- 33% of users prefer to contact brands through social media rather than by phone.
- Social customer care costs an average of $1 per interaction, compared to $6 per phone call and $2.50-$5.00 per email.
- 45% of customers share negative reviews on social media, while only 30% share positive reviews.
- 67% of companies believe social customer service is the most pressing short-term priority for contact centers.
In addition to all of this, Twitter is a public platform. That means that when you deliver excellent support, other users will be able to see it. Being known for your customer service can give you an edge up on your competitors. Zendesk found that 40% of customers start purchasing from a competitor because of their reputation for providing superior customers service.
Don’t lose out on business because of poor or non-existent customer support on Twitter. Follow these 10 tips to power up your Twitter customer service:
1. Setup an Infrastructure
Your first step is setting up your Twitter support infrastructure. Tweeting back and forth with multiple customers can become messy very quickly. The last thing you want to happen is for someone to Tweet you following up with a question they asked two days ago, and you have no idea who they are or who they spoke with.
The native desktop and mobile Twitter apps are perfectly fine for casual users. But as a business, you should use a Twitter Dashboard. Sprout’s dashboard gives you everything you need to setup and manage your social customer support. You can invite team members, track conversations, make notes and get data to measure how your support team is doing.
The other part of your setup is deciding if you want to make a separate Twitter Handle strictly for support.
Having a dedicated customer support Twitter Handle can prevent your Twitter feed from being filled with conversations about customer issues and complaints. This strategy is particularly common for software companies and corporations that get a large volume of customer support related Tweets.
2. Don’t Ignore Negative Feedback
As tempting as it is, tuning out negative feedback about your company is bad for business. Oftentimes, negative feedback gives you insight on ways to improve your business. But more importantly, ignoring customers who Tweet you can add onto their frustration.
Use negative feedback as an opportunity to correct problems and regain customers. Twitter examined the customer relations between airlines and their passengers on its site. Among many eye-opening stats, Twitter found users who received a reply back from an airline were more satisfied with their service experience.
The study also found passengers who received a reply to their Tweets were willing to pay almost $9 more for the airline in the future.
The next time an unhappy customer Tweets your company, take the time to reply and resolve their issue. They’ll appreciate the gesture and it could help increase your revenue in the long run.
3. Know How to Keep the Conversation on Twitter
Twitter is great for getting the conversation started. But when an issue starts to get too complex, you need to know how to keep the conversation going on Twitter to avoid adding extra platforms into the mix. Twitter is a real-time conversational platform where consumers can feel like their voices are heard.
While Tweets are limited to 140 characters, moving the conversation to Direct Messages gives you the freedom to use up to 10,000 characters to resolve the issue.
If you aren’t able to resolve an issue within a few Tweets, ask the customer to DM you with their email address. Forcing customers to explain their issue from the start can get frustrating, and you want to make the process as simple as possible.
It’s a breeze for social media managers and customer support to keep the conversation on Twitter without changing channels, which could risk creating an unhappy customer.
4. Keep Private Information to DMs
Even though your Tweets are only meant for the customer, anybody can read them. With Twitter, it’s easy to forget the privacy and security protocol your business set for phone and email support. However, using Direct Messages to converse private information is a great to keep conversations secure.
Here are some things you should only ask through Direct Messages:
- Email address
- Phone number
- Billing information
- Specific items they’ve purchased from you
Always be sensitive to customers’ personal information and ensure them you’re authorized to handle this as early as possible.
5. Initial Your Tweets
If you have multiple employees handling your Twitter customer support, you need a way to track who is responding to each Tweet. It creates accountability and allows you to stay organized. The simplest way to do this is by having employees end their Tweets with their initials when they interact with customers.
Sprout’s built-in social media CRM features make it even easier to track your team members’ interactions with customers. When a user Tweets your company with a question or concern, you can assign the Tweet to a specific member of your team. That way you know who’s in charge of replying and resolving the issue.
6. Respond Quickly
Response time is one of the most important metrics for Twitter customer service. In the airline study mentioned earlier, Twitter found the quicker an airline responded to a user’s Tweet, the more money the users were willing to spend. When an airline responded to a customer’s Tweet in under six minutes, the customer was willing to pay almost $20 more.
A separate study found 53% of users expect businesses to reply to their Tweets in less than an hour.
You can check how long it takes you to respond to Tweets within the Sprout dashboard in the engagement report, which shows both your response time and rate. With this data, you’ll be able to track your improvements and put measures in place to boost your numbers.
One of the best ways to improve your response rate and time is to monitor your brand mentions, which we’ll talk about next.
7. Track Brand Mentions
It’s hard to provide customer service on social media if you don’t have a way of monitoring when your brand is mentioned. For a lot of businesses, monitoring brand mentions on Twitter begins and ends with checking their notifications. However, Twitter notifications only give you part of the picture.
We went into great detail on how to track Twitter mentions in a previous post. Here are some key takeaways:
- Track @mentions, #hashtags and mentions of your company name.
- Search for common misspellings of your company name.
- Make sure you have Twitter notifications enabled for both the mobile and desktop apps.
- Save the top queries containing your brand in Sprout to get real time updates of brand mentions.
8. Be Human
TD Bank’s Bank Human Again initiative demonstrates the importance of humanizing customer service. We’ve seen what happens when companies attempt to automate Twitter customer support, and the results aren’t pretty.
Robots and automated systems are expected for phone support, but with social media, it’s an entirely different story. The appeal of turning to Twitter instead of traditional customer service avenues is that you can get a quicker response from a person. There’s no “press zero to speak to a representative.”
Twitter is the perfect platform to be more personable with your support. You don’t have to be quite as formal with your Tweets as you would be in an email. The environment is much more casual and your interactions are conversational. Obviously you want to maintain a level of professionalism, but the way you reply to customer support related Tweets should align with your brand’s voice and persona on social media.
@EfferentMedia Hi there! No issues reported on our end, what are you seeing? Response time is based on your user setting
— Sprout Social (@SproutSocial) January 19, 2016
9. Get to Know Your Customers
Have you ever walked into a store and had an employee greet you by your first name? Or maybe you’ve gone to a coffee shop and the barista asks if you want your usual. It makes you feel like they care about you, which ultimately provides a more personalized experience. You can do the exact same thing for your customers on Twitter.
Sprout has a built-in feature that makes this process much easier. You can add notes to any Twitter user you interact with, and share those notes among your entire team. Being able to quickly check your prior conversations or special notes/preferences for a user allows you to provide a personal level of service.
10. Go The Extra Mile
Resolving a customer’s issue doesn’t have to be the last time you interact with them. Look for opportunities to go the extra mile with your support. Whether it’s sending out a birthday wish, Retweeting their Tweets or even offering a free product occasionally, doing a little bit extra shows customers that you appreciate them.
You can add customers you’ve helped in the past to different Twitter lists or add notes to their accounts within Sprout. This will make it much easier to track your history with them and deliver top notch service.
— Zappos (@zappos) January 19, 2016
In today’s social media driven world, you cannot solely rely on traditional customer support avenues. Improve your brand image, give your customers better service and build your social following by making Twitter customer service a priority for your business.
How do you use Twitter to provide better customer support? Leave a comment and let us know!
This post 10 Tips to Provide the Absolute Best Twitter Customer Service originally appeared on Sprout Social.