5 Tips for Delivering Customer Service in 140 Characters or Less

Providing customer service in 140 characters or less; that’s a challenge a growing number of companies are facing. A Maritz Research survey of approximately 1,300 Twitter users showed that 71% of customer complaints and questions posted to Twitter went unanswered, leading to our first tip for tweet success:

  1. Listen carefully. Whether using a free tool or a customer service solution for social media that integrates with other customer service processes, a company’s reputation is becoming increasingly staked on its social responsiveness or lack thereof. More than half of the Maritz study’s respondents expected their tweet to be read by the company, and that expectation actually increased with age.While just 38% of 18 to 24-year-olds had faith that the brand would read their post, close to 65% of respondents ages 55 and over expected their tweet to be read.
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    Companies need to be more and more aware that their social media platforms are two-way conversation channels, and that conversations usually begin at the follower or customer’s convenience, which is why dedicated monitoring is so important.In addition, studies have shown that many complainants on social media usually post or Tweet because they have been recently frustrated or disappointed by the lack of response on another customer channel, which makes highly visible social media channels the venue where the customer relationship is at a make or break level. And unlike Facebook, it is very difficult if not impossible to delete a negative tweet made by an individual about your brand.
  2. Use your Twitter page wisely. Use your Twitter real estate including your organization’s bio and background space to the left of your feed to provide customer support information such as business hours where customer service is provided on Twitter, support portal or email addresses, or the address of a Twitter feed dedicated solely to support. Many social-savvy companies even provide the name of the customer service agent who is currently responding to Twitter questions and comments in their Twitter bio to provide a more personalized experience.
  3. Deliver a consistent message. Ensure the tone of your social persona is consistent, kind and personable. Language should not be overly formal, and if the message cannot answer a follower’s question or complaint in a single tweet, the conversation should move to a direct message or direct the customer to a channel that allows for a more in-depth conversation instead of engaging in public-facing back and forth.Many companies that successfully use Twitter for customer service have a standard 140-character-or-less response to questions or complaints, so that they can answer tweets quickly in a consistent tone, for example, “Thanks for your tweet. We’d really like to help you, so please use this link to tell us more.”
  4. Don’t be afraid to be proactive. Even though a customer is not tweeting a complaint about your company directly @ your organization’s twitter handle, through monitoring of your brand name, you can impressively reach out to offer service, a technique pioneered many years ago by Comcast’s Frank Eliason.In addition, many companies use Twitter to proactively communicate issues their customers may be experiencing and the expected resolution so that social media and other customer service channels aren’t flooded with calls, emails and comments.
  5. Know the Rules of the Tweet. Anyone posting on your company’s behalf on social media should have a good understanding of Twitter’s written and unwritten rules, hashtags, messaging, etc., as well as have a strong understanding of your company’s messaging.

Listen, use your page wisely, be consistent, be proactive & know the rules – in 140 characters or less, these are five best practices for delivering more effective customer service on Twitter.

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