In our recent articles, we have discussed how social customer care can give businesses a competitive advantage. In the previous article, we examined how we could use Facebook for customer service. This week we look at Twitter.
Twitter is a personal and swift social medium where most people share their opinions in 140 characters. Twitter can be used by brands to build more personal connections. For example, most celebrity brands use Twitter for daily updates on their lives. This fosters a sense of connectedness with their followers, who prior to Social Media may have had to catch them in the news. Twitter is also about discovering interesting people online, and following their explosive messages for as long as they are interesting. Others use it for networking and discussion based on their own interests.
Because Twitter is mostly about opinions, most brand scandals also erupt on Twitter! Very recently, E. L. James the author of 50 Shades of Grey had a taste of the spew of venom when she attempted to host a Twitter chat about her book. Though this book was wildly successful mainstream, the Twitterverse had a different take. See figure 1 and 2
Figure 1 – the tag #AskELJames was supposed to encourage readers to tweet their questions… I do not believe they were expecting this question!
Figure 2 – and the #AskELJames nightmare continued…
Most companies use Twitter as their social CRM hub of choice because the character limit forces customers to get o the point with their requests.
Figure 3 – Companies which are helpful on Social Media win! Your goal when doing Twitter Customer Service should be: helping the most people within you can within the shortest amount of time.
Because It is quick, user friendly (new to twitter will beg to differ – but once you get the hang of it) Twitter is an open discussion forum, where customers can vent about their issues or reach out directly to a brand with a short question.
- Be responsive and respond quickly
Nothing surpasses being there for people exactly when they ask for it and need you. Set a timeline for attending to your customer on Twitter. Some companies aim at not more than 5 minutes to respond. Responding quickly and with wit can prevent comments from taking a life of their own and spinning into full-blown crises.
- Discoverability and personalization
Make the Twitter experience more human for your customers. You can do this by customizing your bio to sound more humanly. You could also end your responses and posts with names or initials of the person who posts and answers. Instead of a logo, you could use the pictures of your customer care representatives if that suits your brand. This will make the customer feel like s/he is dealing with a human being. Even if you have a dedicated Twitter handle for customer service, remember not to ignore those who use your official twitter handle to seek support. Relate with your customers like you will converse with a friend who has a problem. See figure 1
Figure 4 – this response sounds quite human.
Consider your availability when you are posting your tweets. If you are a global business, remember that people may reach out to you at any time in the day. When you set automatic tweets that run throughout the day, remember that people may respond, are you capable of running a 24-hour/7days a week Twitter-help desk?
- The Help Team and/or Administrator
Give your team the tools and the training they need so they feel comfortable having personality and really showing what your brand voice is. The importance of training the Social Media Team cannot be overemphasized. To prevent inaccurate information from going viral, the team/manager should be knowledgeable. Training can help avert some very avoidable crisis. As discussed in the previous article, the US Embassy in Ghana about a year ago had to issue a series of tweets to remedy an ‘errant tweet’ sent from its official Twitter page. Delta Airlines was brought to its knees on Twitter after an attempt to celebrate U.S.A’s 2-1 victory over Ghana on Twitter. Delta was forced to delete the tweet and issue an apology amid a flurry of criticism. The tweet was branded ignorant, offensive, racist etc. Delta became the butt of many online jokes around that period. To further embarrass the airline, it had to delete an initial apology on Twitter because of a typo that referred to its “precious tweet”, instead of its previous tweet. Your brand image is tied to your social media page.
Traditional communication channels like the email, phone, and chat support are all reactive channels. With these channels, the brand has to wait for the customer to initiate the contact. Social Media, however, allows brands room for proactive customer service. To provide your customer with exceptional service, you need information – for example about how they perceive your brand. In order to gather that information, you have to listen. Twitter is an excellent channel for listening. You can provide exceptional customer service through listening on Twitter. This can be done through the following means:
- Search – You can provide customer support via Twitter to people who are not yet your customer. Helping people with their problems – Hilton. Find people asking questions about the space you do business in. Be helpful and point people in the right direction, without even pointing to your business/brand. For example, Hilton hotel has an account on Twitter called @hiltonsuggests. @HiltonSuggests was set up by Hilton Worldwide (one of the leading global hospitality companies) with the sole purpose of giving insider tips to people exploring new cities. The Staff who manage this account search for people who have travelled or are about to travel to new cities and offer them advice.
Figure 5 – Snapshot of @HiltonSuggests conversation: “@LTHughston tweets: Good places to eat near the Magnolia hotel, downtown Dallas for Saturday? Hilton Suggests replies: Wild Salsa on Main or Campisi’s on Elm are awesome! Both within walking distance of your hotel in #Dallas. Enjoy! “
- Direct messaging – Direct Messages are private conversations you can have with anyone on Twitter from your Twitter account. Take ‘sensitive’ conversations away from public platforms with Direct Messages. Can you think of any other ways you can use Direct Messages in Customer Service? There is also an option to privately message a group of users and launch a conversation with multiple followers at once. Direct Messaging can very helpful for customer service on Twitter.
- Other techniques
Your customers looking for detailed responses about technical issues may benefit from how-to videos. These can be links to other platforms or uploaded videos. You can also use Twitter’s native videos to help your customer within a 30 second window. Other Social interactions may need to be completed in another channel, particularly where private details or booking information needs to be disclosed.
We are now at the stage where social customer service is becoming an established part of doing business. Although many companies have not begun delivering social customer service at the level consumers expect, most acknowledge that they should and are working toward that goal.
Let us conduct an experiment: Tweet any of your favourite brands and see how they respond, lets discuss on Tweet chat #BeInspiredGH
In this edition we discuss some tools you can use on Twitter to listen in and find those future customers you can help.
- TweetDeck – set up search terms with the most relevant words contained in questions you want to answer for people. Setup search terms to follow relevant searches for your brand.
- InboxQ – Chrome browser extension. You can save searches and receive notifications whenever there are new questions you can answer. InboxQ is a great Chrome browser extension to keep track of people asking questions.
- Twitter Search – Twitter’s search tool has some terrific customization options – advanced search. This allows you to pin down exactly what you are looking for