Customer service on twitter is a different ball game to phone and email support. For one your responses are open for the world to see. Customers can publicly slate you and you only have 140 characters to explain your side of the story. Some user’s reach is enormous, and they could easily spread their message about your perceived poor service to thousands, or even millions, of people very quickly.
Now I’ve spread the doom and gloom a little, let me see if I can help alleviate your worries.
The first thing is to see social media as a way to show how awesome your company is. To publicly show the world you really care about your customers. Its a way to turn those grumpy customers into advocates for your brand – people that will use their awesome social reach to promote you, without you having to do anything at all. You can’t buy that kind of brand promotion but it does take a little nurturing.
So how do you ensure your customers on twitter are advocates not spreaders of doom? … Or turn the situation around from them being the latter to the former?
1 Respond quickly
It seems obvious to some but responding quickly to customer tweets is the single best way to ensure that even the most angry customer is turned into an advocate (and yes its possible).
Twitter is an instant gratification platform. Hitting the refresh button to see what new and interesting tweets might be there is like playing a slot machine. Most of the time your refresh will yield no results. Nothing worth reading. But occasionally, just maybe, you will find an awesome little golden nugget of a tweet amongst all the chaff. This keeps you coming back for more. More little instant hits of gratification.
So when a customer tweets you, how do you give them that instant gratification they need? It’s easy, just respond with light speed. Just the fact that you’ve acknowledged them and are trying to help always goes a long way to keeping people happy. It shows you care and that you are willing to help whatever it takes. See how you’re doing with the Sprout Social Engagement Report and use platforms like Freshdesk or Zendesk to make it easy for you to manage with the rest of your support.
Contrast that with if you ignore them. Think about the last time it took you 60 minutes on hold to get though to customer support. You were already annoyed with something – that’s why you are phoning for support in the first place. So making you hold is just adding fanning the flames. As the brand, you’re just putting yourself further on the back foot.
Additionally, social media management platform, Lithium have found those customers that get a poor or slow response are unlikely to buy from you again. Their research and findings are here.
2 Be honest and open
You’ll see some brands on twitter who do what I call twit support. They sort of help you out. What they actually do is every single time someone wants help, they just respond with something like this…
@JayBoneOOOO Hey Jay, we can help. Please follow and DM us. ^JLS
— Verizon Support (@VerizonSupport) May 4, 2014
The negatives of this approach are two fold.
- Users reach out for help and instead of getting an answer quickly, you’re making them do another step before they can get that help. It’s making them jump through unnecessary hoops and could antagonise them further.
- By never answering questions in public, especially the difficult ones, you’re not demonstrating your brands willingness to help. Your hiding it, and that makes people a little suspicious. If you are indeed super at customer support, why would you hide it in DM’s?
3 Seek out problems
For most brands, the old way of doing customer support was to wait for your customers to complain and then try to help. It was waiting for the issue to become large enough that they make the effort to complain. But how can we make this better?
Seeking out conversations about your brand on social media but also the wider web is the way. By monitoring blogs, forums and reviews you can spot potential issues before they come complaining directly to you. Then by reaching out to help before they’ve asked for it, you might just surprise them. You might surprise them so much that they love you for it. They will see that you genuinely care about them. All of a sudden the problem is sorted and the customer is super happy.
It’s also an opportunity to demonstrate your super service and caring to a larger audience, that’s potentially never heard of your brand before. Everyone else viewing that public conversation will see you reaching out and see how super you are, even before they become a customer. In this way super customer service can genuinely create new customers. (Quick tip – Google Alerts and Mention are super platforms for doing this sort of monitoring).
The golden rule?
You should always be trying to turn customers into advocates no matter how difficult the conversation gets. Even the ones that come to you with the hardest questions, seemingly with the most anger. In fact those very customers that you think can’t be saved, can often become your strongest supporters.
Now super customer support isn’t all about discounts. It’s not about just bending to the wishes of your customers every time. It’s about treating them fairly – like you want to be treated. It’s about genuinely caring for your customers and then showing that to the world.
Believing that you can turn every situation into a positive one will mean you exude that positivity. Even if you don’t intentionally, it will be in your voice, your writing and your body language. People will pick up on it. Trust me, it really works.
Next time you respond to someone who’s not happy… do it with a smile. I mean physically smile while you’re trying to help them. Even on the phone, people will be able to tell you’re smiling and that goes a long way towards helping the situation.
- Respond to me with light speed when I need help, and all of a sudden I’ll be friendlier with you.
- Show you’re human and don’t hide customer service – people will trust you more.
- No one’s perfect – looking for unhappy customers can be really rewarding.
- Turn your toughest customers into advocates – all it takes is a smile.
This post was originally written for around.io