With its high-visibility conversations and real-time interactions, Twitter can be a useful tool for customer service. When done correctly, customer service tweets can resolve problems quickly and help your company cultivate a positive public image. Done poorly, however, Twitter interactions can result in PR nightmares. Before you fire up your company's Twitter account, take the time to create a solid, thoughtful plan of action.
Create a Dedicated Service Account
If your company already has a Twitter profile, it can be tempting to use it for customer service. Whenever possible, create a separate account dedicated solely to customer service. This separation creates a defined solution for customers who need help and eliminates the need for agents to sift through unrelated tweets. It also demonstrates respect for your non-customer Twitter followers who may not be interested in service tweets.
For customer service professionals, one of Twitter's main benefits is the ability to solve problems in minutes, thereby neutralizing the situation and keeping customers happy. To access this benefit, however, you must assign one or more staff members to monitor the Twitter account and respond within a set time period; long delays or a seemingly inactive account can work against your company. Unless you have the resources for 24-hour monitoring, consider setting expectations in the Twitter profile. For example, let customers know that they can expect a response within one hour on weekdays between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., and provide an alternate contact option for after-hours issues as well.
Use the Retweet Function
Twitter conversations are visible to the public, so a service discussion with one user can benefit other customers. Twitter feeds can move quickly, however, pushing your customer service tweets out of view. To increase the visibility of a great conversation or a positive tweet, use the retweet function. Don't retweet only from the service account; boost the audience by sharing a great tweet from your company's general account, departmental accounts or individual accounts. In doing so, you can bring attention to common problems and make it easier for customers to find relevant conversations.
Know When to Take the Conversation Offline
In many customer service conversations on Twitter, there comes a point where the content is no longer useful to a general audience. The discussion may require personal information, for example, or the issue may be so specific that it does not benefit others. To avoid irritating users or losing followers, identify this point in advance, and create a set of criteria to help agents recognize it. When a discussion reaches the crucial juncture, agents can switch to direct messages, email or phone.
With careful planning and measured execution, Twitter can be an unparalleled customer service channel. By answering questions and solving problems in public Twitter conversations, your agents can reach a large audience and reduce the overall volume of service inquiries.
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