White Plains, NY—Twitter has struggled to find its role in the digital world. It is an excellent platform for sharing breaking news, but ecommerce attempts have floundered. Customer service has proven to be another story: both customers and brands are embracing Twitter as a way to ask questions, resolve complaints, and clarify orders. Millennial shoppers in particular strongly prefer text-based communications; a very well publicized Jason Dorsey survey of Millennials found that more than a third would rather clean a toilet than phone the call center.
Providing customer service on Twitter is satisfyingly cost effective. Jeff Lesser, Twitter’s senior product marketing manager, states that providing a response to a customer service issue via Twitter costs $1; the same response delivered via a call center costs $6. Additionally, companies using Twitter as a customer service channel report a 19% increase in satisfaction rates.
New Twitter feature lets customers know when to expect a reply. As Twitter pivots away from plans to serve as an ecommerce portal, the company is emphasizing its attractiveness as a customer service channel with two new features. The first, currently being tested on select business profiles, rewards interactive brands with a badge that reads “Very Responsive to Messages.” To qualify, an account must respond to 90% of all messages within 15 minutes or less. The presence on these badges throughout the site will shape customer expectations of response times in general; patience for brands that take hours or even days to respond will diminish.
Private message feature enhances customer service experience for customers and brands. In the process of answering customer service inquiries, it’s often necessary to request information such as order numbers or shipping addresses that a customer justifiably wants to keep secure. Twitter has added a button allowing users to privately message each other. Private messages aren’t subject to Twitter’s 140-character limit, and you can use them to share links and photos.
Familiarize your customer service team with this new feature, and instruct them to use it at any point potentially sensitive information is being discussed. Private messaging is also a good way to contain an upset or disappointed customer’s feelings from being publically aired all over social media in real time. Be aware, however, that this is not a foolproof solution, and there’s nothing that can stop a customer from sharing what’s happened in a private message publicly, should they wish to do so.
Dedicate a Twitter account specifically to customer service. Make it easier for your customer service team to deliver prompt, professional responses by creating a separate Twitter account for your customer service needs. Make sure this Twitter account is instantly identifiable as part of your brand: Hilton Hotels does this with @HiltonHelps; Apple’s new customer support Twitter, launched in March, is @AppleSupport.
Empower your team to answer questions. My Alerts, a price tracking website for online shoppers, monitors the social media accounts of major retailers, such as Target and Best Buy. They report that during the 2015 holiday season, a significant portion of customer service queries related to whether or not particular items were in stock in local stores, and if not, when would they be available. The most common answer was “Sorry, we don’t know. Keep checking back,” which obviously leaves a lot to be desired. Make sure your team is prepared with the information they need to answer questions as well as a clearly identified point person to go to when they need assistance answering questions.
Pay attention to new customer feedback feature. Twitter has partnered with third party providers to show brief one question customer satisfaction surveys after customer service inquiries. These surveys are conducted privately, via Direct Message, and Twitter saves customer responses so you can use them to assess your team’s performance. The frequency of surveys depends on your business’ volume of customer service Tweets as well as the settings you select when setting up this feature.
Jennifer Shaheen is the Technology Therapist. For nearly 20 years, she’s been putting her digital marketing expertise and entrepreneurial acumen to work, helping retailers and brands of every size take their businesses to the next level. Jennifer is a national presenter and moderator for Entrepreneur and SCORE, the nation’s most valuable resource for small business, as well as a recurring guest on MSNBC’s Your Business and contributing author to Bank of America’s Small Business Market Place. A dynamic speaker and educator, working with the gift and jewelry industry, including appearances at Leading Jeweler’s Guild, Polygon, American Gem Society Conclave, and JCK Las Vegas. Find out more by visiting www.technologytherapy.com.