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If you don’t implement it right, Twitter, like most other business strategies, can backfire and become detrimental to your customer service.

In recent years, customers have flocked to social media platforms in expectations of prompt responses to their complaints. On these online platforms, not only are they able to voice their complaints, they can also inform other potential customers of their negative experiences. However, lucky for us, social media is a two way street and as a company, you can use this to your advantage and showcase your support skills.

But, despite most companies being active on Twitter, not all understand the protocol and etiquette required for customer service on it. Here are some of the things you should not do as a customer service advocate on Twitter:

 

Don’t Over-Tweet

This comes in to play whether you’re communicating with a customer or updating your company social feed. If your company sends out a Tweet every few minutes—it just seems as though nothing else is going on in the office apart from social media updates.

Your social media team can do their research and establish a schedule which takes advantage of optimal timings that work best in engaging your target audience. You can also make use of content management tools such as Hootsuite to schedule posts when you’ve determined the optimal times for your following.

If you’re dealing with a customer over Twitter, always keep the content short and sweet and suggest another platform to further resolve the problem or issue. The key here is to keep public conversation to a minimum and try redirecting them to a more private platform instead.

“Tweet about your business, but in moderation. And always add value to the conversation—news people can use or will enjoy sharing”. —Success

 

Don’t Freak Out

The biggest thing you have to remember when sending Tweets is that your customer isn’t the only one ‘watching’. Social media is a very public platform and a business always has to assume that all eyes are observing their every move. So, when dealing with customer complaints you want your audience to see how professionally you are able to resolve their problems.

A freak-out session with a difficult customer will become a stain on Twitter that cannot be removed. You will damage your company’s reputation if you entertain cyber-wars and internet trolls. Instead, send a friendly reply and suggest an alternative, more private platform for discussion.

 

Don’t Let The Tweets Linger

Just like everyone is able to view your Twitter Correspondence, they can also see when you are ignoring a Tweet. Hubspot recently noted that 72% of people who complain on Twitter expect a response within an hour, which means when it comes to social media, you have to be fast in reacting.

One of the reasons as to why customers prefer using Twitter to voice their complaints is the immediacy of feedback. While customers might have to wait days to hear from a bigger company using traditional methods of support, Twitter grants them direct access. Therefore, as a support team to a business, regularly check your notifications for any interaction with customers. If you want to know exactly what types of conversations are taking place around your brand, you can also do a general search.

On the topic of speedy replies, it’s also important to work on the communication between departments. The last thing you want is to further confuse an already frustrated customer. Make sure all your support representatives are briefed and understand the correct protocol.

If you want to make us of  Twitter as a platform for customer service, you have to make sure your profile isn’t dormant. There needs to be constant activity and customer engagement in order for them to recognize this channel as a platform for discussion.      

Don’t Blame Others

“Businesses need to stop blaming the technology for its service flaws, and take responsibility for the lack of commitment they give to how customers are treated”. – Kavi Guppta

Companies that admit their mistakes and apologize tend to receive the most respect.   

The ability to empathize with your customers and assume responsibility for a mistake can go a long way in gaining forgiveness and defusing anger.

 

Don’t Be Negative

A negative attitude will not improve your popularity online. Sometimes, it’s funny when individuals have Tweets where they complain and vent, but to a company, this is a no-no. Don’t include yourself in the trend of online complaining because your Twitter profile is one of the platforms a prospective customer might look at before making a purchase decision.

Positivity, on the other hand attracts all the right people. Don’t be afraid to share some happy vibes with your audience online. As the Personal Branding blog states; “positive people tend to be some of our biggest influencers in society and some of the world’s most successful people”.

Even if the customer is ‘attacking’ you online, keep it calm and friendly but to the point.

 

Don’t Forget the Hashtags

The great thing about Twitter is that Tweets can be categorized. By making use of hashtags when dealing with customers, you can create a ‘universal’ hashtag for them to refer back to. For instance #MadeForYou was part of a Volvo Twitter campaign. At the end of your replies to customers, feature the hashtag and your audience will be able to view how you dealt with previous complaints and queries.

This level of transparency will show your followers that you are proud of the way you manage complaints and that you aren’t trying to hide or sugar-coat anything. Transparency goes a long way in a company’s credibility.  

 

Don’t Just Pretend to Know Your Product

It’s super important that your social media manager is educated in every department of your company. They are your company’s representatives to the outside world and so must be knowledgeable about your products and services. The process of customer service will be inadequate and delayed if the person responsible for social media has to double check facts and ask other experts to answer the questions.

Of course some questions might need a specialist’s opinion or some technical details, but encourage your social media team to learn as much as possible about your company, services and products. Kavi Guppta explains in his article, Social Media Won’t Fix Your Broken Service that the key to improving the customer support process lies in: “robust education within the organization [that] will keep everyone informed, and strengthen every department’s ability to work together while holding them accountable – especially when resources and teams are tight from the get-go.”.  

Don’t Be A Robot

While some companies tend to be too casual on social media, you also have social media managers that are too technical and don’t form a relationship with the customer. They are overly focused on relaying facts and specifics without being polite, patient, or personal.    

Customers want to feel that they are being ‘heard’ and that the customer support representatives care about more than just the problems listed by the them. A social media team should be trained with a fair amount of empathy in order to really connect with the individual they are supporting.

 

When planning your customer care strategy on a platform such as Twitter, make sure that you don’t fall into any of the above-mentioned traps.

Educate your team in the values which your company stands for, how customers should be treated, and how to represent themselves online so that Twitter can be more than an additional platform for support—it can become an enjoyable point of contact between your customer and the business.

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Anneke Steenkamp

Freelance Writer at The Joy of Unemployment
Anneke Steenkamp is a Social Media Manager and Copywriting creative. When she's not typing away at client content she's perfecting her Facebook stalking skills and spending time with her pet dog, Zoey.