Twitter – eight rules of customer engagement

According to the findings of the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council’s “Variance in the Social Brand Experience” study based on a survey of more than 1300 respondents, consumers have high expectations that organisations will respond quickly to their questions.

The participants of the study indicated that they want rapid feedback with 41% expecting to be responded to either immediately (22%) or within an hour (19%). This does not mean that we need to resolve the query in that short time frame, but consumers do want to know they have been heard and action is being taken.

It is no longer possible to expect that prospects and customers will only want to ask you questions by phone or completing a form on your website – they want to receive customer support on the social media channels of their choice. This is an area that I cover in my social business audits and education with my corporate clients but there are some important aspects to consider even if you are a small business

Here are eight tips to help you integrate customer support into your Twitter communications – do remember that you also need to take into account compliance and regulations for the industry you operate in.

1. Make It Clear What Hours You Are Open For Service

Add the details of your support hours on Twitter to your Twitter bio to try to manage the expectations about when you will be monitoring your Twitter account to provide customer support. In addition, you can add a customer support phone number and email address to make it easy for people to contact you.

This same information can also be included in your Twitter background – many people use applications and mobile devices to engage on Twitter however this is real estate that can be used for those people who check your Twitter profile online.

2. Use Your Twitter URL To Support You In Customer Support

All too often organisations use the link their Twitter profile to refer people to their main page of their website. If you are using Twitter for customer support, then consider instead linking to your customer support page on your website or create a page on your website with more information about how people can access support from you.

3. Personalise Your Support

If you have several team members managing your Twitter account, consider naming them in your Twitter bio, showing their avatars in your Twitter background and putting their initials at the end of Tweets that are in response to customer service questions so that people know who they are interacting with which also helps when you take the query offline.

4. Respect Your Customers Privacy

Never ask people to share their account information or private information openly on Twitter – if you mutually follow each other on Twitter you can take the conversation from the public domain into private direct messages.

5. Know When To Move The Conversation To Another Channel

Remember you do not have to resolve all questions on Twitter – some more complex questions will warrant directing your customer to your online support desk for support or will require a phone call or even a meeting face to face to resolve the issue.

6. Establish Service Level Agreements

If you are outsourcing the management of your Twitter account, it is important to clarify with your third party provider how quickly they will respond to questions and what their service hours will be. Service level agreements are also important if your Twitter account is being being managed in-house and where you need to engage the support of colleagues from other departments to assist you when queries arise.

7. Create Assets To Help Your Customers

Create articles or audio and video tutorials that answer the most common questions you are asked by customers which you can refer people to in response to the customer support questions they ask.

8. Be Prepared To Scale Your Service

As your customers start to find and interact with you on Twitter, consider how you will scale your support. For example you may develop a dedicated customer support Twitter account as we see in the case of consumer brands and utilities providers. You will also want to consider how you provide customer support in multiple languages if your business expands internationally.

Delivering a great product or service is imperative, but remember that supporting your customer as they use your service will help you retain them and also can attract more referrals. How you respond to customer questions on Twitter will be observed by others and done well can also enhance your reputation with potential clients and prospects.

Using this eight point checklist you can review your use of Twitter as a channel for customer support and service. What else do you find works for your small business or startup when using Twitter for customer support and service?