Tweet Your Way to Better Customer Support

The ubiquity of Twitter cannot be emphasized enough, and with more than 300 million monthly active users sending more than 500 million tweets every single day, Twitter is an increasingly important customer service—and customer engagement—tool.

But like many social media platforms, delivering effective customer support using Twitter can be a challenge. These challenges are compounded by Twitter’s 140-character limit and the pressure associated with the customer’s expectation that they will receive an immediate response to their question.

Still, there are many reasons why Twitter is the perfect platform for customer support:

You can deliver support quickly. When it comes to support, speed is of the essence. On average, 69 percent of customers who contact support via phone believe that their hold times are too long. Twitter's fast-paced, real-time tweeting allows support teams to tackle questions in a shorter amount of time than it would take them to answer via phone.

Answer once, reach many. We're willing to bet that your reps get tired of answering the same questions or solving the same problems over and over again. If there are commonly reoccurring issues (and if there are, get them fixed, stat!), by tweeting them out publicly, all of your followers can potentially see your response. That means that you have a shot at cutting down the amount of questions and complaints coming through.

It demonstrates transparency. It's common for companies to try to give followers, readers, and customers a look at who they are and what makes them tick. Twitter provides your support team with the ultimate form of transparency by allowing the public to see the questions and complaints that come your way and how they're handled. If done right, this can lead to a positive corporate image.

It's cost-effective. Because reps can get to more questions faster, you actually need fewer agents staffed if you can figure out a way to use Twitter in a highly efficient way.

It lets you spot common problems. One of the great things about Twitter is that it allows you to see trends. You can track entire conversations involving your brand, even if people are talking about you rather than directly to you. From there, you can pull overarching issues together and look into fixing them using a more preventative problem-solving strategy.

So Twitter is an ideal tool for customer support, but what are the best ways to use it?

There are many approaches, and ultimately you’ll have to pick and choose, based on which practices align well with your organization. But here are some best practices to keep in mind:

Make it snappy. One of the main advantages of Twitter is that it lets your team respond to complaints and questions quickly. Make sure they know this and really embrace it. People tweet at all hours of the day, so you should always have staff members on the platform responding quickly (within one hour if at all possible).

Skip the formality. Unlike phone support, social media is less formal. You can really use it as an opportunity to embrace and play up your company's personality. As long as you're doing so tastefully and still solving issues, why not really get into your Twitter tone?

Use private messages when necessary. Obviously, you don't want customers to tweet private information like addresses or phone numbers. Instead, take advantage of Twitter's private message feature and use it whenever more private information is being exchanged.

Be human. Much like customer support via phone, no one likes a robot. Just like you shouldn't ever sound like you're reading a script on the phone, you also shouldn't be tweeting the same answer over and over again on Twitter. In fact, this is even more important to remember for Twitter because everyone can see if you're copy/pasting the same responses.

Respond to direct acknowledgements. While responsiveness is critical, not every tweet requires a response. Don't feel the need to respond to every single mention about you, especially the negative ones. Use your best judgment to decide when to address problems and when to let them go. Remember, if users track your conversation and your entire feed is littered with responses to negative comments, it's not going to look very good. Choose what to respond to and what to let go of.

Using Twitter as a customer support tool can be a lifesaver. It has the potential to save time, money, and resources. Additionally, it lets you keep things upbeat and allows you the freedom to play around with your brand's voice a bit. The biggest reason of all, however, to jump on Twitter is because that's where consumers are—and you should always go where your customers or prospects are.

Tiago Paiva is the CEO and cofounder of Talkdesk, the world's leading browser-based call center software solution. You can follow Talkdesk at @talkdesk and http://blog.talkdesk.com/.

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