Should a Company Create a Separate Customer Service Twitter Handle?

Sofie De Beule
Sofie De Beule Community Manager, Engagor

Posted on January 14th 2014

Should a Company Create a Separate Customer Service Twitter Handle?

Customer Service Twitter Handle

Social media completely changed the way people do business nowadays. Instead of having little communication between divisions, they now have to work together and quickly address any issue to a specialized department. Another significant change is the close integration with social media and customer service. Why has it become so important?

Forbes discusses this in-depth in 'The Ignored Side of Social Media: Customer Service':

"Now that social media sites are an integral part of business culture, using them for customer service is moving from cutting-edge concept to business necessity."

If you look at the way companies speak to brands, most customers address their questions to a company's social media platforms. Social media is the place to be 'social' and talk to friends and family. Those interactions often include complaints related to customers service. Any company should make sure their social media platforms sync really well with customer service approach.

Twitter is most customers' preferred go-to social platform. Consumers are more in control of the timeliness of the situation and Twitter allows them 'to be heard' easily as sharing it on a social channel gives some degree of gratification. Companies often create separate Twitter handles (e.g. @MicrosoftHelps), only for the purpose of leveraging their customer service. But is this actually the way customers want to be approached?

Schermafbeelding 2014-01-14 om 10.34.49

Why do people reach out to a company on their main account for customer service?

No matter what kind of questions customers are dealing with, they seek to personally engage with a company. People don't necessarily interact with businesses on social the way companies think they do. In most cases, customers don't want to reach out to a dedicated Twitter handle and instead prefer a company's main account. With people directing their questions or complaints to your Wall or main Twitter handle, it's often unnecessary to create more specialized accounts for multiple departments.

People don't necessarily interact with businesses on social the way companies think they do.

In which cases should companies create a separate Twitter handle?

1. If your customer service team deals with a large volume of incoming questions

A company's main Twitter handle should be all about positive engagement. If you're a large company or you're in an industry that specifically requires immediate response (e.g. public transport companies or big food chains), host the dialogue with unhappy customers on another line. The creation of a separate Twitter handle for customer service provides followers with meaningful content and tips from a valid source.

2. If more than one Twitter handle broadens your reach

Customer service via Twitter is a means to build a larger audience. If a social customer service team proactively engages with people on their customer service account, chances are customers will start to follow that account during the interaction. People mainly aren't aware of your main account. A separate Twitter handle brings about new marketing challenges and extends your reach.

3. If your Twitter account needs regular service updates

Airline companies set the example here as they send out service updates on the spot via Twitter to keep flying customers up-to-date on flight information. A separate Twitter handle makes sure that information goes to the right people. Customers only interested in the brand will tune out easily. Instead of giving status updates via a website, technology companies can also create a separate Twitter handle and direct all questions to that account.

In short, if your company has two handles, a large amount of customers will still reach out to you on your main account (especially if it's your brand name). Don't just redirect them or ignore their questions! Make sure you handle them properly and create positive customer sentiment. A single handle might sound hassle-free, however, separate handles do make sense (like in the cases above).

This post originally appeared on the Engagor blog.

Sofie De Beule

Sofie De Beule

Community Manager, Engagor

Sofie De Beule is Community Manager at Engagor, an all-in-one social media management tool for companies that want to monitor and manage their online presence. Sofie is a Thought Leader and Brand Advocate specializing in social media marketing and CRM. 

Feel free to start a conversation with her via Twitter @SofieDBeule

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Comments

i am totally in support of a customer support handle to keep customer support flow out of the marketing and update flow that should come from a brands handle.  Otherwise messages get lost.

Hi John

Thank you for commenting! I do agree a separate Twitter handle is less confusing and optimizes customer service workflow. However, customers address most questions to the main account. Social agents have to be trained properly to handle every incoming message the right way. Simply redirecting customers to the customer support handle is not the way forward.

I totally agree and i think that companies should only get a separate account when they are recieving a vast amount of complaints/ queries online - and when i say vast i mean atleast 100 a day. To achieve this, you must be a pretty big brand and therefore can afford to have a dedicated member of staff just to watch this account and ensure the best customer service is provided. 

 

I agree that brands should have a seperate handle for customer service needs, but only for big brands. If you're a mom and pop shop, odds are you won't get that many tweets to the customer service account, and the account could grow stale.  I think an inactive social media profile is one of the worst things a brand can have!

Great topic!

I agree that some companies should have a separate Twitter handle for customer support. These companies like you stated would be some like the aforementioned: Transporation Brands, Fast Food brands, but I would also include the CPG (Consumer Packaged Goods) industry and the retail outlets that they are sold in.  I don't believe that every company would find it effective to have a separate customer support account simply because it seems counterproductive to put resources into creating a Twitter handle that most of your consumers/readers won't use. Some industries I think should refrain would be service industries, like Hair Stylists/Salons, Personal Trainers/Fitness Facilities, Lawyers/Legal Advice, CPA/Accountants. Thanks for a good read!

Hi Sophie

separate Twitter handle would be efficient. I'm a former customer service assistant and E-mails were given great care. If Twitterremarks could be sent directly to that same email adress: both jobs could be done with precaution. Now Marketing and Customer Service are still two departments, two worlds far away from eachother unfortunately. 

By the way I noticed you work for a Belgian IT company based in Ghent but also based in San Francisco where I'm living..As a patriot, could you give a name of someone that I can send my CV to as a customer service assistant looking for a job at Engrevor? my email: aerts_t@yahoo.com

Mercikes hé

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