Aah, Customer Service! Hardly does a topic get such passionate, and immediate reaction from consumers.

Whether it’s good or bad, everyone has an opinion on it. So how can you as a small business owner try to ensure that what people are saying about your business is good rather than bad?

In the last of this series on getting the most out of your Twitter Marketing, I’m going to show you 4 ways to provide outstanding customer service to your customers that use Twitter.

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

For me this quote gives businesses big and small some comfort. Any number of things can go wrong with the products or services you provide, but if you become known for your exemplary customer service, you can often redeem your reputation with your customers.

Technology has shifted the power balance back to the consumer. Social media has really changed the whole landscape now because it is immediate and very visible, and here are 4 ways you can use these traits to your advantage.

1. Make it easy for people to get help

As obvious as this may sound, it always surprises me how many businesses have Twitter accounts that they started, tweeted from it a few times, then abandoned it to the Twitter boneyard! Perhaps they’ve run out of ideas, or maybe the work experience person how looked after the account has now left.

It’s pretty straight forward to resurrect an account, or create a new one to sit alongside it and make it an account solely dedicated to answering questions and providing support via Tweets. Nike, for example, has a main Twitter handle for the brand, but they also have a Twitter handle called @NikeSupport that is dedicated to customer questions. You could use the same principle, or @CustomerService<Yourbizname>.

It’s also easy to find by adding the word ‘support’, you just type in @Nike in your search bar, and it is listed along with all their other accounts, making it clear what aspect of the company business it deals with. I love the way they also use it for such things as service updates, which pre-empts customer enquiries and keeps their customers informed. Creating a dedicated handle will also raise expectations for a quick response from your business, and with a generally accepted response time expectation of 24 hours, this brings me to my next point.

2. Be responsive and authentic

Social Media has changed everything when it comes to Customer Service. When customers get feel let down by a company, they don’t just get mad, the get tweeting! Airlines are a particular service that receive a barrage of requests for help or complaints, but some have managed to be highly successful at managing their customer services relationships.

Take @JetBlue for example. Here they have not just responded promptly, they are also quick to genuinely say sorry for the poor experience an aggrieved customer has received. Often, this alone can stop a mistake turning into a major crisis. Think about when you’re unhappy with a product or service, doesn’t the company showing that they do care impact your opinion of them? As a guide, I would suggest that responding to customer service messages can be broken down into 3 P’s: prompt, personal and proper. Respond promptly, with a personal message that is proper in it’s content and tone. Which brings me nicely to my next point.

3. Be there and show that you care

If you only operate in the UK, then the standard business hours response between 9-5 would normally be sufficient. It doesn’t mean however that you can’t also set up an auto-reply message when someone follows you to show you’re at acknowledging their contact. This is another good reason to set up a dedicated Customer Services Twitter handle. Because the account is solely for dealing with issues or feedback, there’s no risk of your auto-message been viewed as spam or direct selling.

Social Media management software, Social Oomph allows you to set up an auto-reply/welcome message using a DM (Direct Message), although you will need to pay for this feature.

It’s also important to make customers aware of your presence; so advertise it! Ask your customers to follow you on Twitter in your Sales and Marketing literature and on your website. Advertise that you care enough to want to actively engage with your customers in solving problems via Social Media.

For those of your customers who don’t use Twitter, they can still find your Twitter handle by doing a Google search. Add your Customer Service team’s operating hours to your Twitter bio, and add an alternative way to reach you such as a dedicated email or contact number. Or for extra brownie points, add the names of the people on the team. This helps build trust and makes your customer’s experience much more personable.

Nike does this to a degree in their Twitter bio. Because they operate internationally, they offer support in other languages, and also have a link to a dedicated place on their website.

So how can you promptly keep pace with all this chatter about your business? My next point shows you how.

4. Use alert tools and monitor the conversations around your brand

If you want to stay ahead of the game with your customer service on Twitter, then you need to know exactly when and what people are saying about your business. You need to of course constantly monitor the ‘Notifications’ feed of your account. Also, the Social Media management tool Hootsuite has a fantastic feature that makes monitoring what’s being said about your business (and any nickname it may have) a lot easier. Use it to set up alerts for your brand name so that you will be informed as soon as any tweets come up.

You can also monitor the good things that people say about your business, certain hashtags or keywords that are related to your brand or your industry sector. I show you how to add a ‘Mention’ stream to your Hootsuite dashboard in one of my previous blogs, 3 Ways To Be Memorable While Saving Time on Twitter.

I hope you’re sold on why you should use Twitter for Customer Service function, but here are some more benefits:

  • You improve customer service output. If  your telephone customer service people have a lot of time between calls; you can get them handling customer problems on Twitter in their downtime. You’ve improved your customer service output without adding staff ~ result!
  • You save your customer’s time. I’m sure you can imagine how many minutes a year we spend on hold waiting for “the next available operator”! For a things like a simple service update, or a breakdown in your normal service, a tweet from your dedicated Twitter account can answer that question and dramatically reduced hold times. If your monitor your customer hold times, you could see a real improvement in it.
  • You improve the customer’s mood. If you can resolve a customer’s problem in less time than they would have spent waiting to speak to a real person (face to face or on the phone), you’ll end up with a happier customer.
  • You leave a public record of customer service. Your existing and potential customers can see your Twitter stream, and potentially how people are talking about your company and your brand. Whether what people are saying is good or bad, you will leave a record of how you managed that feedback, and that really tells people who you are as a business. A Twitter conversation between you and a customer you just helped is a glowing testament to the kind of Customer Service buyers can expect from you, especially if things do go wrong.
  • You improve your business’s reputation. They say people tell more people about bad service than they do good service. Personally, I think that Social Media is changing that tide. Often the people who tweeted about being unhappy with your business will turn around and tweet that they’re happy again after what your customer service people did for them. If they’re a popular Twitter superstar, imagine how many times that happy little story may get retweeted, spreading that success story beyond just the original customer’s followers! It’s Marketing gold that money can’t buy!

If your customers are likely to contact you with service or technical issues, it makes sense to use Social Media, and particularly Twitter to give them a great additional service.

These examples show you how providing timely and helpful responses to customers on Twitter can cultivate loyalty and help you provide outstanding customers service. For more great tips read the other blogs in this series:

Top Twitter Tips #1 ~ Twitter Networking Hours

Top Twitter Tips #2 ~ 5 Creative Ways To Use Twitter Favourites to get Results

Top Twitter Tips #3 ~ How To Successfully Manage Your Twitter Marketing On The Go

So over to you! What do you think? Do you provide customer service on Twitter? What results have you seen? I’d love to hear any additional tips you could share too, leave your questions and comments in the box below. Or contact me for an informal chat on 07954 475827 about how you can market your business with Twitter.      

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