5 Tips to Handle Customer Support on Twitter Like a Pro

Written by on March 5, 2018

If you’re a business operating in today’s constantly evolving social landscape, chances are that you use social media as a channel to communicate with customers. Among the different social channels available, Twitter has become the most preferred medium for customers to reach out to brands when they expect quick replies and an immediate action. This is primarily because the Twitter universe is extremely public, and any attempt by brands to brush aside an issue can be instantly called out. It should therefore come as no surprise that there’s a 250% increase in customer service interactions on Twitter since 2014, and 80% of all social support requests come from Twitter.

So, let’s say, you’ve already set up customer support for your brand on Twitter and are actively engaging with users to solve their queries and concerns. But, do you sometimes wonder if things are going right? Are you looking for ways to improve how you interact with consumers on Twitter and do things a little differently? Like most things in life, there are no hard and fast rules on how you should approach Twitter support, but there are certainly ways you can get better at it and keep evolving.

Let’s start with an example to understand what you shouldn’t be doing.

You’re probably wondering what’s wrong with this tweet. Though it seems perfectly fine at first glance, it has some classic mistakes. By asking the customer to switch to a different channel and communicate the same issue all over again, the brand is wasting his time which inevitably leads to frustration. The robotic tone doesn’t help either, as it may give the customer an impression that the support agent is reluctant to address his concern when everyone is watching.

Customer support on Twitter requires a higher degree of personalization compared to conventional channels like phone or email. It combines support skills with the ability to strike a chord with the user so that they will perceive your brand in a more positive light.

We will take a look at 5 tips on how you can get better at Twitter support, and stay in the good books of your customers.

Tip #1: Respond Quickly, but Set the Right Expectations.

Customers do not like to wait for long on social media. In fact, the very reason they reach out to a brand on Twitter is the hope that they’ll get an instant response. 60% of people who take to Twitter to reach out to a brand expect a reply within an hour. So, it is absolutely necessary to be on your toes and respond to incoming queries as fast as you can. There are multiple ways of doing this. For starters, you can staff up and assign support agents exclusively for handling Twitter requests. This will help them develop the language and skills required for Twitter interactions and make sure they’re well equipped to handle emergency situations. Another way to approach fast Twitter responses is by using dedicated tools to prioritize tweets that need urgent action. For example, you can use a helpdesk solution to set a really low SLA on tweets that contain trigger words like “broken” or “problem”.

Along with quick response times, it is equally essential to set the right expectations among customers on when your support team is available to take customer queries. You do not want to leave a customer hanging when your support agents are about to leave for the day. Twitter has a slew of dedicated features that let you explicitly specify your support hours and also mention the times your handle is most responsive.

Twitter even goes one step ahead and lets businesses greet users with preset options on what they can expect help with every time they enter a Direct Message (DM) conversation. The welcome note along with the preset replies come up even before the user has sent the first message. This goes a long way in making the brand feel more accessible before the issue is addressed by an actual support agent. Here’s a look at what happens if you try to send a DM to Evernote’s support handle.

Tip #2: Give a Personal Touch to Your Replies.

The most loved brands on Twitter have a personality in the way they interact with customers. They go beyond merely resolving issues to actually try and connect with the customer. Creating a personality and staying consistent with it isn’t the easiest thing to do, but there are baby steps you can take to make sure you’re on track. Simple things like peppering your replies with a more humorous tone, or mentioning the names of support agents with every tweet can work wonders in making the customer feel like they’re talking to a real person, and not a bot.   

If you take a quick look at LinkedIn’s support handle, you will realize how all their replies have a consistent, well thought out tone.

Another brand that has built a great personality on Twitter is Innocent Drinks. Their tweets and replies are filled with super quirky jokes and puns, which have gained immense popularity among their user base.

T-Mobile follows a neat trick as well to incorporate a personal touch in their customer interactions. They use Twitter’s custom profiles feature to show the support agent’s name and picture every time a customer sends across a DM. This makes sure customers feel at ease before sharing their problems.

Tip #3: Turn Negative Feedback Around in Your Favour.

No brand is immune to the occasional bug or goof-up which can potentially disrupt services and lead to angry customers. There’s a high possibility that these dissatisfied customers will use Twitter to vent their anger. Sprout Social’s Q3 index for 2017 points out that 81% of consumers believe that social media has increased the accountability of a brand and 46% have called out brands on social media for a variety of issues.

So, how do you tackle a dicey situation like this? Firstly, it’s important to not ignore such negative feedback, but deal with these frustrated customers with care and empathy. An apology is always a must. However, along with owning up to your mistakes and apologizing for the trouble caused, it is equally essential to club the apology with a solution or a promise to look deeper into the issue.

If customers feel their comments are being heard and acted upon, it is more than likely that they will reverse their stance and spread the word about their positive experience. Sprout Social’s report makes this fact evident by stating that 45% of such consumers would take to social media again and speak about the positive interaction.

JetBlue does a great job of handling feedback from disappointed users and genuinely trying to improve their experience.

Tip #4: Segment the Support and Marketing Handles.

For bigger brands, it might make more sense to have an exclusive handle for support apart from the primary handle. This way, you can maintain a separate style and language for your marketing campaigns without affecting how support queries are dealt with. You can also use the support handle to post service and maintenance updates.

This setup would be preferred by customers too, as nobody likes being bombarded with a flurry of marketing messages when more serious concerns are at hand. Plus, if they land at your support handle, chances are they’ll look at your previous tweets and find solutions to similar questions raised by other users.

Nike has a separate handle meant just for support, and this approach has got them great results. A quick scan of their Tweets and replies will let any user know that they mean business and are super responsive in resolving issues.

On the other hand, they use their primary handle to go all out to promote their products and get customers excited about new concepts and ideas.

Tip #5: Anticipate Issues and Reach Out Proactively.

Another important way you can approach customer support on Twitter is by keeping an eye out on what customers are saying about you, and reaching out to them in advance before they come looking for help. Here’s an example of Xbox support extending a hand to a customer with a broken Xbox 360.

You can see that the customer in question has not even tagged Xbox’s handle indicating that he was not expecting them to pick up the casual rant. But they did, and this will reaffirm the faith in his mind that they genuinely care about providing him a seamless experience.

This kind of proactive approach involves social listening to actively monitor mentions and keywords relevant to your product and domain. There are a wide range of social monitoring tools available today, and most of them get the job done when it comes to finding things relevant to your brand. You can also use a more comprehensive customer support software to listen for the right keywords and automatically reach out to customers before they contact support. But, if you’re wondering how to look for specific words amongst all that noise, we have an exciting new feature that lets you do just that.

As can be seen from the examples above, doing customer care right on Twitter can be a richly rewarding experience. Not only is Twitter one of the most popular mediums for customer communication, it also presents amazing opportunities to influence customer loyalties and build a strong brand presence. So, go ahead and create a unique Twitter strategy to win customers over. Do what you think plays to your strengths, and don’t hesitate to give new ideas a shot.

So, how do you use Twitter to interact with customers? What are some things you do differently that have worked well for your brand on Twitter? Let us know your stories and experiences in the comments below.

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