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September 29, 2009

How to Provide Customer Service on Twitter

When most people think of customer service, long wait times on the phone, rude phone operators, and impersonal emails come to mind. Thanks to Twitter, however, customer service no longer has to have such negative connotations.

Twitter has redefined customer relations. Not only does Twitter enable companies to resolve customer problems very quickly, it also contributes to brand building efforts while reducing costs.

Why is Twitter an Ideal Platform for Providing Customer Service?

Twitter is lightning fast. Typically, calling customer service representatives involves frustrating wait times. On the other hand, Twitter allows staff to monitor issues and respond to them very quickly.

Twitter is very viral in nature. If other users notice that you are providing great customer service, they will take notice and share their experience, which will in turn bring you more attention and sales.

Providing customer service via Twitter is a lot less expensive than running a call center. And since you’re communications are limited to 140 characters, you are forced to keep it short, which usually means that it takes less time to solve problems.

Using Twitter to provide customer service is far more interesting for staff and customers than using telephone or email. Customer service reps will also feel more rewarded for their efforts because the immediate impact of their interventions will be visible on Twitter.

Monitor Your Reputation

In order to effectively provide customer service via Twitter, you must track all conversations that are going on about your brand. Find out what people are saying about you by tracking all relevant keywords, such as your company name, flagship product, nick name, etc. There are several tools out there you can use to track multiple keywords on one page such as Monitter. Tweetbeep sends you emails containing all mentions of your brand and links to each tweet.

Make Sure Your Customers Know Where to Find You

Your ability to provide great customer service on Twitter will be limited if your customers don’t even know you’re there. Make sure they know how to find you and follow you by advertising your Twitter presence on your company website, following others, and asking them to follow you back.

Respond Quickly to Customer Concerns and Complaints

When you’re monitoring your brand and find a customer complaint, respond as quickly as possible. Use @replies to ask the disgruntled customer how you can be of help. If it’s a complex issue, you can DM the customer and provide him with your phone number or email.

@replies are typically the best way to deal with customer complaints because they are public. Other customers dealing with similar issues can see your tweets and thus resolve their problems following the same advice, saving you time.

Connect with Followers on a Personal Level

Don’t just use Twitter to handle customer complaints. One of the major benefits of building a Twitter presence is the opportunity it gives you to improve your brand image and reputation. Give people a reason to follow what you have to say by retweeting successful resolutions to customer issues, giving updates about the company, and building a rapport with your followers.
Several companies out there, including Comcast, Southwest Airlines, and Ford, have successfully used Twitter to resolve customer service issues and build a stronger brand. Using Twitter to provide customer service is also far more cost-effective than telephone or email.

So there you have it. Twitter has transformed customer relations. Is your business ready to take the plunge?

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