When you think of Twitter, petty political arguments, viral celebrity tweets, and fast-paced news updates may come to mind. But there are great examples of customer service on Twitter, too.
With 206 million daily active users worldwide (and growing), Twitter is not only a top social media platform but also an ideal place for customer support. In fact, collaborative research from Twitter and Sprinklr shows that 2 out of 3 people prefer Twitter for customer service over other social media platforms.
Yet many businesses aren’t connecting with consumers on Twitter. According to the Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report, less than 30 percent of companies offer social messaging and in-app messaging. This is a missed opportunity.
Considering Twitter is a prominent social channel, it’s important to connect with customers and offer support on this platform. Don’t let the minimal character count and fast pace scare you. You can provide efficient and memorable customer service on Twitter by setting clear expectations for your followers, embracing all the features Twitter has to offer, and letting your customer service team shine.
How to use Twitter for customer service
Here’s how to get started and make Twitter a key piece of your customer service strategy.
Consider a dedicated support handle
If you receive a lot of customer inquiries, you may want to create a separate Twitter account specifically for customer support.
A dedicated customer service account helps keep customer complaints from bogging down your primary Twitter feed. Your main account can then feature exciting, engaging content such as funny videos, humorous memes, and notable product updates. Meanwhile, your support-focused account will be a place to retweet and share positive customer comments, helpful resources, answers to FAQs, and service updates. Top brands—including Evernote, Adobe, and Nike—have already embraced the idea of establishing separate Twitter accounts.
On Evernote’s dedicated support account, @evernotehelps, the company’s customer support team responds to user inquiries and shares important app status updates.
To get started, set up a separate account with your brand name plus the word “service,” “support,” “help,” or a similar term so customers know the purpose of the channel. Once you create the profile, make sure you link to it in the bio of your primary Twitter account, as most customers will search for your main page first.
Monitor both direct and indirect mentions of your brand
Great customer service on Twitter goes beyond monitoring your direct messages and mentions. It also requires proactive social listening to catch any indirect mentions as well.
Tracking mentions is key for customer support because not everyone is reaching out to your business directly. And keep in mind that even if someone is trying to tag you, misspellings and other mistakes can still occur. When that happens, you may not get a notification. You don’t want to leave followers hanging simply because they accidentally left off the “s” at the end of your Twitter handle or autocorrect tripped them up while they were typing.
While you can do the majority of social listening manually by using Twitter’s advanced search feature, this process becomes time-consuming and less effective as your social following grows. It’s better to use a social listening tool to proactively monitor Twitter and other social media platforms. The right tool will track everything related to your business on social media—from brand mentions to competitors to specific keywords—and synthesize this information into helpful reports and analyses.
Also monitor variations of your company name (including abbreviations and potential misspellings), hashtags (like #adobe), and links to your website. You may want to track related searches, too, so you can quickly jump into relevant conversations. For example, the Domino’s support team may want to keep tabs on tweets that include the word “pizza.”
Move conversations to DMs
If messages require more than a quick response, your customer support team should move conversations off of the public Twitter feed and into private direct messages.
Direct messages, or DMs, can seamlessly integrate with support platforms like Zendesk for organized, efficient tracking and follow-up. This is crucial when wading through hundreds or thousands of customer tweets per day and other support channels.
Plus, most of us have seen or heard of the customer service interactions that go viral for all the wrong reasons. While a DM doesn’t necessarily stop customers from publicly blasting you for bad customer service, it does minimize the chance that a mistake will lead to a viral customer service horror story. DM interactions also prevent private information sharing on public channels.
To move public conversations to DMs, make sure you have your account set to receive DMs from anyone, not just those who follow you. You can adjust this under Settings & Privacy.
When someone sends you a tweet with a complaint or inquiry, publicly reply to the message first and then request that they DM you. This public response shows other customers that you are addressing, not ignoring, the issue.
When you reply to their tweet, use a conversation button or a deep link to prompt them to DM you. Once they send a message, use a tool like Zendesk to create a support ticket and integrate it with your agent workspace.
Most shifts from public tweets to private direct messages are pretty seamless, as seen in this recent Twitter customer service interaction from Evernote.
Craft the perfect DM welcome message
Twitter allows businesses to set automated welcome messages when customers initiate a direct messaging experience. These welcome notes are important because they help set the tone and expectations for the rest of the interaction. They also help guide customers to the next step in the support process so they can get the answers they need faster.
To craft an engaging welcome message:–Customize the text based on the user’s entry point.
–Use rich media (like videos and photos) to grab their attention.
–Use buttons and quick replies to direct customers to the right solution to their problem or question.
Say you run a restaurant. A customer clicks on an ad about your delivery deal, and they DM you to start an order or ask a question. Your welcome message can provide more details about the delivery promotion, showcase pictures of your best-selling dishes, and include buttons to guide the customer to your menu.
Master the art of brevity
Twitter limits you to a 280 character count for tweets, and we all know that people have limited attention spans when scrolling through social media platforms. So, you must be concise if you want to get your point across and pique your followers’ interest on Twitter.
Shorten your posts and make them easier to read and engage with by using:Hashtags. Hashtags should be short, obvious, unique, and easy to remember. When deciding the number of hashtags to use, don’t go overboard. It’s a good idea to select only one or two hashtags for your support team to use in relation to your brand. Over-tagging is known as hashtag spam.
Abbreviations. Common abbreviations you’ll see on Twitter are DM (direct message), RT (retweet), and w/ (with), among others. Learn the lingo and use it appropriately.
Emojis & gifs. Visuals are sometimes more effective than words, especially on the Internet. A 🤣 emoji or laughing gif gets your point across just as clearly as, “Oh my gosh, that’s so funny.”
Shortened links. Sites like bit.ly, Ow.ly, or TinyURL allow you to compress long links, giving you more characters to use in your tweets.
Sometimes, you’ll still need to exceed the character limit. Splitting replies into multiple tweets is okay, but try to keep it to two or three tweets. If you’re going to split a longer response into different tweets, number them—for example, (1/3), (2/3), etc.—so the customer knows when you’re done. Beyond that, you’re better off moving the interaction to a direct message, as noted above.
Host a Twitter chat
A Twitter chat (also called Tweet Chat) is a public conversation or live Q&A session that takes place on Twitter around a unique hashtag. Host a recurring chat where customers can tweet questions or feedback and receive responses in real-time.
These chats are especially helpful in situations where a lot of customers may have similar questions—such as when you launch a new product or service or when there’s a bug affecting numerous people at once. Customers get quick answers and learn more about your business. On the flip side, companies can identify customer knowledge gaps, giving them the insights they need to expand their self-service options and improve support.
To host a Twitter chat, first set a specific time and hashtag so your support team and followers can join in on Twitter collaboratively. You’ll also want to promote the chat in advance so customers know when to join the event. Consider including the details in your Twitter support account bio and promoting the chat on your website’s customer service page.
Customer service team members can moderate and respond to questions during the chat. If there are any missed questions, your team can answer those publicly or in private DMs after the chat.
Put your support team in the spotlight
While chatbots and AI are powerful, they’re only a first line of defense. Many customers want to speak with live reps. A 2019 CGS survey on chatbots and customer service found that 86 percent of consumers prefer to interact with a human agent rather than a bot. The survey went on to note that 71 percent of respondents “would be less likely to use a brand if it didn’t have human customer service representatives available.”
Meet customer expectations by making it easy for people to connect with real agents on Twitter. To build customer relationships, Twitter support agents should:–Sign public tweets with their initials or name.
–Introduce themselves by name in the DM chat.
–Use “we” and “us” references in tweets.
–Use the customer’s name, rather than their username, whenever possible.
Support reps on the @AdobeCare Twitter account follow the tips above to show empathy and create a more personal customer service experience.
Set response time expectations
Fast responses are a must, especially on Twitter. According to the 2020 Sprout Social Index, 40 percent of consumers expect a reply within an hour on social media, while 79 percent want a response within 24 hours.
A prompt response is important, but it isn’t always feasible to have reps working 24/7. When you can’t have agents on hand to reply quickly, set response expectations upfront to minimize disappointment and frustration. Include your customer service hours and your average response time in your support account bio and in your DM welcome message. That way, customers know you’re only likely to respond between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET (or whatever the case may be).
When agents do respond to DMs, they should provide clear next steps and an estimated follow-up time. Then, send updates at a regular cadence to keep the customer in the loop.
Showcase your brand voice and values
Companies that have a strong brand voice, clear values, and an authentic personality across social media and other platforms tend to stand out in customers’ minds. Whether it be humorous and snarky or caring and sincere, your brand voice can help diffuse tension and make customers feel at ease.
To showcase your personality and jazz up your customer service interactions, use consistent language and branding across all platforms. You can also use Twitter features like videos, gifs, and polls to grab customers’ attention and personalize their experience.
Every business is different, so you’ll have to find the best strategy for you. Popular toilet paper brand Charmin has embraced its “enjoy the go” messaging and bathroom puns on Twitter, giving customers a good laugh.
Warby Parker, an online glasses retail shop, takes a helpful tone that highlights its expertise by offering personalized style advice and recommendations when customers reach out.
Always close the loop
The last thing you want to do is leave a customer hanging. Whether in a public Tweet or a private DM, you should always check to ensure the customer is satisfied. Your final response can end a potentially negative conversation on a helpful note; it also gives the customer a chance to provide valuable feedback.
To close the conversation loop, you might ask, “Is there anything else I can help you with?” If they say no, follow up with a quick “thank you” or “have a nice day.” Sometimes, simply responding with a thumbs-up emoji or “liking” the customer’s last reply can do the trick. The end of a conversation is also a great opportunity to request they fill out a customer satisfaction (CSAT) survey.
Start using Twitter as a customer service tool
Of course, Twitter is just one of many social media channels where you can—and should—connect with your customers. Every channel is unique and a potential place to build long-lasting customer relationships. Whether you’re looking to reach customers on Facebook or WhatsApp, make social media and messaging platforms a larger part of your customer service strategy.
Zendesk's messaging software can support as many channels as you need while funneling them all into one unified agent workspace. Start meeting your customers where they are and delivering richer customer service experiences.