Many small businesses are hesitant to use Twitter for customer service, especially if they’re managing multiple social media accounts. This is usually a mistake because Twitter can drive large volumes of customer traffic to websites, increase brand awareness and build customer connections.
But should small businesses use Twitter for customer service? The short answer is YES! Twitter is the gateway to connecting with industry influencers, attracting new customers and networking with other small businesses – which creates opportunities for new sales.
Twitter has a large user base
With more than 115 million active Twitter users every month – 43% of them tweeting and about your small business from their mobile phones – there’s plenty of opportunities to use Twitter as an online customer service channel. This helps your business answer customer questions and complaints as they happen in real-time, which means you can easily monitor customer sentiment and address issues before they become crises.
Customers are a small business’ biggest asset on Twitter
Small businesses are often concerned negative reviews will damage company reputation. These are valid concerns, but it’s been our experience when customers tweet to companies, they’re either commending you for a job done well, have a question they can’t find the answer to, or are frustrated with results from other customer service portals.
This is why it’s crucial to monitor customer sentiment on social media. Social media monitoring tools like TweetDeck and Hootsuite help locate value-added customer conversations (like those praising you!) and they’ll notify you of negative comments too. This allows you to address issues publicly with replies/retweets and privately via direct messages, and helps control potential public relations crises. (For more information on crisis management, check out this blog post.)
Twitter helps Small Businesses Build Connections with Customers
If you’re going to use Twitter solely for customer service, brand your page with your logo and business contact information. In your Twitter bio, include the first names of people handling customer service issues and specify your customer service availability times. For example: “#Custserv available from 8AM-5PM EST.” This creates reasonable response time expectations – a key ingredient in maintaining customer relationships on social media.
Build rapport with customers by being kind and professional. Always address them by their first name. Even though the complaint occurred via social media, there’s a person attached to the handle! Take a few moments to browse the profile of your customer – they may be having a sour experience with your business today, but may have mentioned your company positively before. If so, thank them.
Speedy customer service response time counts on Twitter:
Despite consumer patience, everything on Twitter happens “in the now.” According to Widrich, “nothing trumps being there for people exactly when they ask for it,” and this statement rings very true on Twitter.
So make sure your Twitter customer service program maintains quick response times. Consumers demand immediate action from companies using Twitter to manage customer service issues. People don’t want answers in days or weeks – they want them now. Keep response times for consumer inquiries under three hours and complaint responses even shorter. This shows your customers you value their time!
Do you have any Twitter Customer Service success stories you’d like to share? Perhaps an extra tip? Share below!
If your small business or nonprofit needs some help starting on Twitter, contact us!