4 Ways to Use Twitter for Customer Service and Support : Social Media Examiner

social media how toDo you have customers?

Are they on Twitter?

Are you using this amazing tool to support your customers?

Keep reading to discover four ways to provide amazing customer service with Twitter.

Why Twitter for customer support?

 “I genuinely believe that any business can create a competitive advantage through giving outstanding customer care.” ~ Gary Vaynerchuk (@garyvee)

This is one of the best quotes I have heard. It must give any business a lot of comfort. Even if you have a million complaints, you can still lead with better customer service.

When my business recently had to weather a severe storm, we decided to default everything to simply being there for our users and customers. It was an incredible experience.

And what better way is there to give your best customer service than through Twitter?

Twitter has changed continually over the past few months, as the service becomes more and more mainstream.

The results we’ve seen from using Twitter as our most important support channel day in and day out are incredible.

Here are the 4 most powerful insights on using Twitter for customer service that I’ve learned along the way.

#1: Use the Speed of Twitter to Your Advantage

This is a phrase that gets thrown around a lot. “On Twitter, you need to be fast in responding!” But just how important really is speed in responding on Twitter? Here’s an example.

fast response example

This is the effect which speed in customer service can have.

To take advantage of this, I make it a rule to keep response times under 5 minutes for our customers. This makes an immense difference. No matter what problems come up, nothing trumps being there for people, exactly when they ask for it.

It’s a rule so simple that it is often easy to overlook. We were fortunate enough to have people publish articles on this, purely because we were so fast in responding. That’s why I can’t stress enough the advantage it gives you if you don’t let more than 5 minutes pass before you respond.

#2: Personalize the Experience on Twitter as Much as You Can

Another very important yet easily overlooked part of giving support on Twitter is personalizing the experience. This means you aren’t speaking to your customers behind a corporate logo.

Instead, make every effort to replicate a face-to-face interaction. This gives the absolute best results, in my experience. Here are three of the most important things you can easily do:

  • Personalize your Twitter bio.
    personal bio example

    Provide your personal Twitter handles in your company's Twitter bio.

    Put your name and the names of everyone who could possibly tweet on your business account. It builds a lot of trust. Your customers, if they have very urgent questions, can also turn to your personal accounts instead.

  • End tweets with names.
    It has long been recommended to end tweets with your initials—”lw” in my case. I always felt this didn’t make a lot of sense. Instead, end your tweets with your actual first name. It will give your customers a much better chance to connect with you, especially if you also have the names of the other people tweeting in your Twitter bio.

    tweet with name

    End Tweets with your first name, so you can connect on a more personal level.

  • Use your face as an avatar instead of a logo.
    A third tip that can help you personalize the experience is to use a picture of your face, instead of your logo, for your profile picture. Two great examples are Dino and Dan from Triberrand Pete Cashmore from Mashable:

    face instead of logo

    Test putting your own face as an avatar for your company's Twitter profile pic.

    It’s one simple step that can immediately make you more approachable and human.

    Some people have told me in the past that they can’t replace their logo for various reasons. No problem at all. There is still something you can do.

    For the most pressing questions from your customers, switch from responding with your business Twitter account to responding with your personal account. This way you can provide a personal exchange with the branding effect of your logo remaining intact.

    Again, Dino Dogan from Triberr is doing a terrific job and earns a lot of kind words for doing exactly that.

    twitter response

    In special cases, just jump in and reply from your personal Twitter handle.

#3: Use Direct Messages on Twitter to Your Advantage

One of the keys to great support is to help the most people you can in the shortest amount of time. If you have a very widespread problem, with a ton of incoming tweets in a short amount of time, using DMs can be a lifesaver.

Here is a quick 3-step guide to help you cope:

  • Send one public tweet explaining the situation. Anyone who finds your Twitter profile will see that tweet first.
  • Then, reply to any @mentions with a DM. First, you won’t clutter your business’s Twitter stream with @replies for other customers looking for what is going on. Second, you can go into more detail explaining how you can help each customer.
  • Switch back to sending @replies if there is no acute problem anymore, but only regular questions and support requests.

I have to admit that I got the above wrong for a long time. I would send lots and lots of @replies in a short space of time. The problem was that all of the customers who were looking for what was actually going on had to scroll down many times to find the public tweet that I sent first.

DMs are also extremely useful when a simple @reply doesn’t give all of the information the customer needs.

In these cases, try DMs instead of the regular “please send an email to name@company.com,” which tends to prolong the time it takes to solve the problem.

You can send 2 or 3 DMs in a row if this allows you to answer your customer’s problem right away.

royal dutch airlines

Use DM's wisely and make people aware you have sent one.

#4: Give Great Customer Service to People Who Aren’t Your Customers (yet)

This is quite a new concept that I learned from the great Gary Vaynerchuk and Rand Fishkin.

Did you know you can provide amazing customer support via Twitter to people who aren’t actually your customers yet?

Helping people who have problems or questions of all sorts about your niche, but not directly your product, can be an amazing way to generate new leads.

Let me walk you through this.

When I first got started with Buffer, there wasn’t any traffic directed toward our site, but we realized there were still a lot of people asking questions about the space we were in.

Lots of great questions were floating through the Twitterverse unanswered, such as “How can I schedule tweets?”, “What is a great tool to clean out my Twitter followers?” and “What is the best social media tool to manage my stream?”

I would jump in and answer questions without even hinting at our own tool—simply being helpful and pointing people in the right direction.

You can do exactly the same thing. Whatever service you are offering, there will be a great number of people asking questions related to your field. When you just help them out, many people naturally check out what you are building and become loyal customers.

Here are 3 great tools to set up search terms so you can find those future customers’ questions:

  • TweetDeck or HootSuite columns. You can easily set up search terms with the most relevant words contained in questions you want to answer for people. Here is one that I used:
    search best twitter tool

    Setup search terms to follow relevant searches for your brand.

  • InboxQ: Another great way to find and answer questions from anyone is InboxQ. It works as a neat Chrome browser extension. You can save searches and receive notifications whenever there are new questions you can answer:
    twitter inboxq

    InboxQ is a great Chrome browser extension to keep track of people asking questions.

  • Twitter Search: Although Twitter’s search tool isn’t perfect, it has some terrific customization options—especially “advanced search,” which will allow you to pin down exactly what you are looking for:
    twitter advanced search

    Don't forget good old Twitter search to find great questions you can answer.

By nature, I believe that Twitter is simply a terrific place to give great customer support, but it hasn’t been fully embraced for this role by many companies yet.

I hope some of the ideas above will help you make your customers love you a lot more.

What do you think? Can you improve support for your business with some of the above tips? What else are you doing that I might have missed here? Leave your questions and comments in the box below.

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