When a customer's problem goes unanswered on Twitter, you lose that customer and possibly the audience of people who watched it happen.
It’s hard to come back from that, which is why customer care is so important on social media platforms. In fact, Shopify found 57% of North American consumers are less likely to buy if they can’t reach customer support in the channel of their choice.
Your customers want to talk to you — and you should want the same, before they head to a competitor. But first, you need to build a customer support presence on Twitter that lives up to your broader customer experience.
We've helped over 8,000 brands upgrade their customer support and seen the best and worst of social media interactions. Here are our top 10 battle-tested best practices for providing exceptional Twitter support.
1. Promptly and accurately respond to tweets
Prompt response time is one of the most important pillars of great customer service, and according to data from a survey conducted by Twitter, 75% of customers on Twitter expect fast responses to their direct messages.
Of course, responding with accurate and helpful information is ultimately even more important than responding in real time, so be sure that you don't end up providing inaccurate information in a rush to reduce your response times.
Promptly and accurately responding to customer service issues that are sent to your company's Twitter account is often easier said than done. To do both, you need an efficient system and a well-trained customer support team.
This is where a helpdesk is critical, to bring your Twitter conversations into a central feed with all your other tickets.
If you’re trying to manage Twitter natively in a browser, or through copy-paste discussions with your social media manager, you’re not going to see the first-response times you need to succeed.
As data from Twitter's survey shows, speed is a necessity in order to meet customer expectations and provide a positive experience.
2. Move conversations out of the public space
There may be instances where customers contact your Twitter support account via a mention in a tweet as opposed to a direct message. In fact, one in every four customers on Twitter will tweet publicly at brands in the hopes of getting a faster response according to data from Twitter. In these instances, it is important to move the conversation out of the public space as soon as possible by moving the conversation to the DMs.
There are a couple of reasons you would want to avoid resolving customer service issues on a public forum. For one, keeping customer service conversations private allows you to maintain better control over your brand voice and image since customer service conversations can often get a little messy and may not be something you want to broadcast to your entire audience.
Moving conversations out of the public space also enables you to collect more personal data from the customer such as their phone number or other contact information, details about their order and their credit card information without having to worry about privacy concerns.
In Gorgias, you can set up an auto-reply rule that responds to public support questions and directs them to send a DM for further help. This can ensure that people feel heard immediately, even if it takes a while for your team to get to their DM.
3. Don’t get into emotional arguments
Regardless of whether you are discussing an issue with a customer via your Twitter account or any other medium, it is never a good idea for your reps to get into arguments with the customer.
Social media platforms such as Twitter tend to have a much more informal feel than other contact methods, and they also tend to sometimes bring out the worst in the people who hide behind the anonymity that they provide. You may end up finding that customers who contact you via Twitter are sometimes a little more argumentative than customers who contact you via more formal channels.
Nevertheless, it is essential for your Twitter support reps to maintain professionalism and avoid engaging in emotional arguments with customers. It may even help to establish guidelines for your team, to help deal with this type of customer tweet. You can include rules on emoji use, helpful quick-response scripts, and whatever other priorities you have.
Recommended reading: How to respond to angry customers
4. Have a direct way for your support agent to reply to tweets
It is certainly possible to use Twitter alone when providing customer support via the platform. However, this isn't always the most efficient way to go about it.
Keep in mind that, like other social networks, Twitter wasn't necessarily designed to be a customer support channel. There aren't a lot of Twitter features beyond basic notifications that will be able to help your team organize support tickets.
Thankfully, there are third-party solutions that you can use that allow your support agents to respond to tweets and Twitter direct messages from your company website in a way that is much more organized and efficient. At Gorgias, for example, we offer a Twitter integration that will automatically create support tickets anytime someone mentions your brand, replies to your brand's tweets, or direct messages your brand. (By the way, we also offer integrations for Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.)
Agents can then respond to these messages and mentions directly from the Gorgias platform, where they will show up in the same dashboard as the tickets from your other support channels.
This integration makes Twitter customer support far more efficient for your team and is one of the most effective ways to take your Twitter customer support services to the next level.
5. Always respond to feedback (even if it’s negative)
It is always important to respond to all questions and feedback that customers provide via Twitter, even if that feedback is negative. This is an important part of relationship marketing.
Many brands shy away from responding to negative feedback on public forums for fear of drawing more attention to the issue. However, this doesn't usually have the desired effect. Failing to respond to negative feedback can make it seem to anyone who happens to see the tweet in question that your brand is dodging the issue.
While you may wish to move the conversation out of the public space as soon as possible, you should always provide a public response to public feedback — negative or not.
For examples of brands effectively responding to negative tweets, check out this article.
6. Be as personable as possible
According to data from Forbes, 86% of customers say that they would rather speak with a real human being than a chatbot. Even if you don't rely on chatbots for providing customer support, though, your customers may not be able to tell the difference unless you train your reps to be as personable as possible.
When your reps tailor their responses and connect on a personal level, it provides a much more positive support experience that provides a halo effect to your brand. Customers will remember that the next time they arrive at the checkout button, and they might even be open to upsell opportunities at that very moment.
7. Create a tracking strategy for brand mentions
Small businesses may not struggle to keep up with brand mentions, given that there are less to track. For larger companies, though, keeping up with brand mentions can often be a difficult task. This is especially true when some users tag brands with hashtags instead of handles.
This makes it important to create an effective strategy for tracking brand mentions in an efficient and organized manner. One of the best ways to go about this is to utilize integrations that will create a support ticket anytime a customer mentions your brand in a tweet. You can even create custom views in Gorgias to centralize all of these mentions.
By tracking these brand mentions, you can also retweet positive posts for brand awareness.
8. Create guidelines to explain which issues you support via Twitter
Not every customer service issue can be handled via Twitter. If there are certain types of issues that fall into that category for your brand, it's a good idea to keep your customers in the loop by providing concise FAQ guidelines that explain which issues you do and don't support via Twitter.
These guidelines can come in the form of a pinned Tweet at the top of your Twitter support account or an off-Twitter link that you provide to customers when they contact you on Twitter with an issue that requires a different medium for resolution. You could even have a visual you add when you respond to questions that don’t fit your guidelines.
Simply responding to customers and requesting that they direct message you for further assistance is another option for addressing issues that you don't want to handle on Twitter. If you set up the auto-reply we mentioned in the second tip, above, it could even include a link to these guidelines.
Check out what this brand did when contacted on Twitter with a problem that needed to be taken off-platform in order to be resolved.
9. Consider having multiple Twitter handles for sales, marketing, and customer support
If it makes sense for your brand, it may be a good idea to create multiple Twitter handles that are designated for sales, marketing, and customer support. Creating multiple Twitter handles that serve different purposes allows you to better organize your direct messages and mentions by breaking them down into different categories.
Having a designated customer support Twitter account can also better encourage customers to contact you via Twitter with their customer support issues since it reassures them that this is the purpose that the account serves.
But even then, some customers will still tweet at your main account with issues. When this happens, you can use intent and sentiment analysis in Gorgias to automatically route those issues to the correct agent or team.
10. Understand the full context of every Twitter interaction
When a customer takes the time to reach out to you on Twitter, whether it’s via direct message or a mention, it’s likely not the first time that customer has interacted with your brand.
If you respond on Twitter, you can see the direct message history on that platform, but that’s where the context ends. With Gorgias’s Twitter integration, you can see the full customer journey, including all social media engagement, support tickets across all of your channels and even past orders.
This context is crucial to understanding the conversation you’re walking into, so you can deal with the situation appropriately. If the person is a long-time customer who engages frequently, you’re going to treat that conversation differently than that of a customer who bashes you on social networks and returns products frequently.
Break down your Twitter customer service silo
Any customer support you provide through Twitter will make things more convenient and accessible for your audience.
But to make the experience faster and more pleasant on both sides of the conversation, you should consider handling all of your social media customer support in one platform, alongside all your other tickets.
Gorgias ties social handles to customer profiles from your Shopify, BigCommerce or Magento store, uniting relevant conversations from across all of your support channels. All of that info is automatically pulled into your response scripts, and you can even automate the process for no-touch ticket resolution.
Check out our social media features to learn more.