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How to Nail Customer Service on Twitter (Plus 8 Brands Who Have)

Last year, I attended Hootsuite’s Connect conference, a virtual event focused on how to master social media for business. One of my favorite sessions was about social customer service on Twitter, facilitated by one of Twitter’s very own, Rob Hamilton. Since this conference, Rob has gone on to work for Amazon and, no doubt, uses the insights he shared at the conference there too.

In this post, I’ll share his key points about nailing customer service on Twitter and add some examples to illustrate.

But first - check out some of the mind-blowing stats he shared that prove the need for top-notch customer service on Twitter.

  • 80% of social customer service requests come from Twitter
  • 82% of Twitter users have followed or engaged with a brand

Clearly, there’s both a major need, and a major opportunity here. As another conference speaker pointed out, Twitter is fantastic for customer service, because (a) it’s a public platform that lets everyone see your answers and customer service skills, (b) it has a global reach, and (C) it allows for real-time interaction and fast answers.

An example of the “Twitter Difference”:

This past Christmas, my husband and I ordered a Christmas tree through Target.com. They confirmed our order and told us when it should arrive. We waited and waited some more, but it never came. A few days after the scheduled delivery date, we called their customer service line and waited on hold for 20 minutes before hanging up. The next day, we called again and were told there would be a lengthy wait time – again.

Not wanting to wait around for an answer, I took to Twitter and discovered Target has a whole account solely dedicated to customer support – @AskTarget. I sent my tweet explaining the situation and went about my day, unhindered by a cell phone glued to my ear in hopes of hearing a human voice.  Within a couple hours, Target tweeted me back to apologize and ask a few questions. They resolved the issue graciously and quickly. I can safely say I will always use Twitter for all my Target questions and concerns from now on.

Experiences like mine are what make Twitter such a phenomenal place to interact with your customers, solve their problems, and make them loyal fans for life. The bonus is that the whole world gets to see your professionalism and efficiency while you do it.

Ready for some tips to help you boost your Twitter support skills? Here’s my five main take-away’s from Rob’s session:

1. Empathize

When you receive a tweet from a frustrated customer, don’t gloss over their frustration. Acknowledge it and agree that the problem is inconvenient and annoying. Taking time to do this will hopefully assuage their frustration, make them feel more appreciated, and portray you as someone who sincerely wants to help.

How to Nail Customer Service on Twitter (Plus 8 Brands Who Have) | Social Media Today

2. Provide Help

Obviously, your primary goal should be to offer real help - what’s the point of having customer service reps if they don’t know how to solve common issues or answer customers’ questions?

Of course, if for some reason, they don’t know the answer, they should know who to pass the question along to, and should keep the customer informed along the way.

But excellent customer support is about more than knowing the answers. It’s about how the answers are given.

Offer help in a completely unscripted way. One of the reasons your customer chose to use Twitter is probably to avoid talking to people in cubicles who are reading from a script and just want to get him off the phone. Explain how you can help in a down-to-earth, personal way. Ask the questions you need to politely, but without sounding like a robot.

How to Nail Customer Service on Twitter (Plus 8 Brands Who Have) | Social Media Today

3. Sign or Initial Your Name

Your name or initials add a stamp of 'humanness' to your tweets. They assure your customers that their complaints are being handled by real people with real names who can provide real solutions.

How to Nail Customer Service on Twitter (Plus 8 Brands Who Have) | Social Media Today

4. Use the Customer's Name

It’s a fact. People love hearing or seeing their own name. Capitalizing on this idea will give you a competitive edge - because customer service reps only use customers’ names 8% of the time, according to a 2015 Twitter survey.

How to Nail Customer Service on Twitter (Plus 8 Brands Who Have) | Social Media Today

5. Keep It Chill

Or in other words, don’t sound stiff and formal. Speak casually, like you would in normal conversation, to make your customer feel comfortable and make you sound relatable.

Avoid customer service clichés and find creative, sincere ways to express your empathy and advice.

How to Nail Customer Service on Twitter (Plus 8 Brands Who Have) | Social Media Today

Perhaps you noticed the recurring theme of personalizing your tweets. For inspiration’s sake, here are a few more brands that have set the bar for personalized customer support tweets.

How to Nail Customer Service on Twitter (Plus 8 Brands Who Have) | Social Media Today

How to Nail Customer Service on Twitter (Plus 8 Brands Who Have) | Social Media Today

How to Nail Customer Service on Twitter (Plus 8 Brands Who Have) | Social Media Today

Remember, whether you have a separate Twitter account for customer service, or you handle all complaints and concerns through your main account, your brand’s voice should be consistent. Having a documented social media strategy ensures that your entire social media team is on the same page, understands your brand’s voice and goals, and what’s expected from them.

Ultimately, making all your tweets - not just support ones - friendly and personal is a winning game plan for any brand.

This post was originally published on Proof Is In the Writing.

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