Why You Can’t Ignore Customer Service on Twitter


Your brand is getting talked about on Twitter, whether you are active there or not. Tweets directed at businesses are up 2.5 times over the last two years, according to Twitter’s latest eBook. Some interactions are positive and others are meant to express throbbing pain points. In fact, 47 percent of Twitter members are using the social channel for customer care.

When a Tweet about your business goes up on the Jumbotron for Twitter’s 316 million active monthly users to see, how will you be perceived: as a mute, uncaring corporation or an empathetic partner that acts quickly and with a conclusive response?

The consequences for silent non-compliance aren’t pretty. Word of mouth recommendations plummet when Tweets go unanswered. As much as 81 percent of consumers often refuse to recommend an inhospitable brand to family and friends. With the viral negative publicity possible through Twitter’s one-to-one-to-many conversations, active customer service on Twitter is a no-brainer.

How to Boost the Way You Are Perceived on Twitter

Though there is a lot that goes into exceptional customer service on Twitter, these three larger strategies tend to carry weight with customers.

1.) Perform Quick Triage

– Twitter is a fast-paced place, where trends start and end in the time it takes Usain Bolt to do the 100 yard dash. Is it any surprise that customer care responses have to come back just as fast?

When a customer asks a brand or product related question through Twitter, 53 percent expect a response time within an hour. Turn that question into a complaint and the figure jumped to 72 percent. Timely responses require a clear protocol in place. No hesitation to sort out priorities. No deliberation over which team member will respond. When a handful of tweets appear, it can be easy to leisurely respond. But when a major pain point presents itself or your brand goes in size, you’ll need the right protocols in place to handle the deluge of customer contact.

Effective customer service conducts quick triage with every tweet and prioritizes based on the answers to certain questions:

  • Is your brand’s Twitter account directly targeted? If yes, it’s often high priority. If not, it typically is still important but less so.
  • Does the problem require immediate resolution? Do you need to ship out a quick replacement? What is the level of pain for the customer? Your answer determines how high it has to be on the queue.
  • How many followers does the customer have? Where will negativity do the most damage? With a customer with a hundred followers or thousands? Though both are important, the one with the most influence gets moved higher up the queue. It’s just practical.

2.) Know What Your Tone & Voice Conveys

– Twitter ditches all the formality of typical service interactions. The general tone is laid back and personable, which sometimes makes the perfect voice and tone tough to peg down. Twitter accounts that aren’t conscious of the right tone can sound offhandedly rude or standoffishly unprofessional. What does a natural voice look like for your brand? It depends on your overall values.

Consider American Express. Customers are promised easy and rewarding service and the American Express Twitter accounts are one of the ways they deliver. The @AmericanExpress handle quickly respond to any mention, even if just to express gratitude or extend future help. But when card or account issues occur, they intuitively rope @AskAmex into the conversation, eliminating a step from the resolution process. That account then takes the steps to further direct customers and deliver professional and concise resolutions.

Another interesting example is Old Spice. Looking at the unhinged schizophrenia of their commercials, you’d expect the same loco responses in their tweets. And that’s exactly what you get…when a happy customer mentions their brand. However, when there are problems, Old Spice cuts the weird. Their response is a simple “Please DM us,” conveying an intent to fix the problem with a level head while taking the resolution to a more private forum.

Effective brands retain their own voice yet navigates customer issues well. The tone of their interactions intentionally amplify their brand persona. Does yours? Do you give off the vibe of a knowledgeable counselor? A trusted partner? A cool friend? Look at what you value most and put that persona into practice on your Twitter customer service channel.

3.) Pick Metrics to Fit the New Paradigm

– Customer service metrics are all the same, right? Not really. There are standards that span channels (CSAT, NPS, and average handle time), but Twitter exists in a unique space. Interactions are visible to a customer’s followers, your followers, and an endless parade of web users. The ripple effect is more important than it ever was but how does that synchronize with long-time customer service metrics?

Each performance metric is going to tie in with a specific goal. Which begs the question, what is the goal of your customer service on Twitter? And which of the following measurements matters most to your strategy?

  • Resolution time?
  • First contact resolution?
  • CSAT and NPS?
  • Customer reengagement rate?
  • Impressions and potential reach?

Finally, it’s important to know when your account needs to change. Twitter practices evolve as quickly as the technology we use to access it. Customer service trends on Twitter will change. It’s the flexible brands which reevaluate and tailor strategies surrounding interaction triage, response voice & tone, and metrics analysis that will keep customers engaged and satisfied.