Several months ago, a startling infographic made waves on the social media site convince&convert that revealed 70% of companies are ignoring customer complaints on Twitter. The same infographic revealed that when companies do reply back to tweets, the percentage of users who liked and loved it combined was at a little over 73% with a nearly identical percentage result for satisfaction in the "very" and "somewhat" satisfied categories.
As the CEO of a company with a Twitter account that responds to customers when they reach out to us, I can't fathom leaving a customer out in the cold on the Twitterverse when they're in need of some extra assistance. But I know that not all business Twitter accounts are created equal, with a study in Entrepreneur revealing that 45 out of 50 retailers have active Twitter handles and only a smaller 29 percent in that group respond back to customer inquiries.
While seemingly all of the businesses in question have a scapegoat to blame for their lack of tweeting - fear of public backlash, inability to respond in real time, no budget for a social media manager to help take over - the best thing to do here is to take a deep breath and dive in to responding to customer tweets. Still afraid? Take my advice on why it's best to face tweets head-on instead of hiding under a rock from them.
It's a need.
There was a time where brands could get away with feigning ignorance about social media or even declare that it was just a fad on its way out. That time is over. If your brand has a Twitter account, chances are high that you have a following built up on it. Chances are also high that you advertise this fact on a regular basis, through newsletters, the official website, and even on other social media outlets, encouraging people to come follow you there. If you build it, they will come but it will crumble if you don't give people a reason to stay. Daily engagement is key on Twitter and checking your @ mentions and DM's to see if anyone has any problems in need of being addressed is all a part of that engagement. Ignoring a problem has seldom ever made it go away - if anything it can only get bigger and the word of mouth against your brand may see your customers and potential customers alike heading to a competitor instead.
It's not that hard to respond (or follow up).
The beauty of Twitter is that in addressing anyone, you have a 140 character limit to work with. That's very, very little material to work with and does force a brand to get clever in creating tweets sometimes. But when it comes to addressing problems or helping out in emergencies, don't be afraid to stick to the basics. Offer up a phone number to call with the name of a point of contact that will be there to answer the phone and talk one-on-one about the problem and work on a solution together.
If one tweet can't include all of the information needed, tweet back and forth with the user until the problem is solved and then follow back up with them a day or two later to see how they're doing and if they need anything else. Avoid making your brand's Twitter account an exclusive page where you chat with influential bloggers all day and sweep anyone having issues under the rug by not responding back to them. By focusing on the customer, and giving them the floor to voice their concerns and be heard back in return, you'll keep that customer and gain several more from their recommendations.
Put yourself in the customer's shoes.
Chances are you probably have a Twitter account and most likely follow a brand or two (or a dozen) there. If you've ever tweeted at them and gotten a reply back fairly quickly, you probably felt like the combined 73% from the infographic referenced earlier - you liked it or loved it. And chances are high it was done in such a way that was personalized just for you too.
Walk a mile in your customer's shoes and put yourself in their Twitter handle's place when responding back. Think before you tweet and make the tweet in response one that is personalized to what they need, rather than a stiff pre-meditated reply. Don't prioritize responses or retweets of praises by how many followers users have either - on Twitter everyone is an equal and should be treated as such. By keeping a human touch in mind for your tweets, you'll find that working with the company Twitter account is far from scary.