By Nikki Siebel
There’s a whole lot of impact 140 characters can have when it comes to your business. Twitter is beyond popular. There are more than 500 million total Twitter users — check out a few of these incredible statistics! It’s vital to any business with a web presence to understand how Twitter is transforming customer service, both by cutting costs and giving businesses an unprecedented opportunity to build goodwill with their customer base.
A Match Made in Heaven
Twitter is an ideal and inexpensive way to provide good customer service. Twitter is much faster than a call center conversation, interaction on the channel feels personal and there are no wait times. Additionally, the ability for a business to engage multiple users with a similar issue at once allows complex issues to be addressed with an agility traditional customer service lines will always lack.
Twitter is also an excellent way to create a positive image for your company’s brand and has a tremendous return on investment for a business. Let’s consider a hypothetical: a company has 1,000 mentions on Twitter, and 500 of them are positive customer reviews. Depending on how many followers those 500 tweets have, the reach could be in the hundreds of thousands. In many industries, the cost per impression (CPM) value of this kind of coverage could be in the tens of thousands of dollars — not bad marketing for a company using a free social media platform.
Men’s etailer, Bonobos, has found customer service through Twitter a game changer. They handle tweets through their Desk.com service system. The team increased their overall presence on Twitter and now actively uses it as a channel to launch contests — and even launch products. They engage in real time, and are finding Twitter engagement a great way to augment their evangelists and advocates. They also tracked a jump in revenue as a result.
Ignorance Is Dangerous
Just one happy customer’s post can go viral and become a story talked about around the world — and vice versa. What do you think about when you hear “Morton’s Steak House”? And, do you remember the FedEX delivery debacle last year? Or how about United Breaks Guitars? Twitter played a major role in all these stories.
Twitter’s impact on customers is measurable by how they respond — by retweeting, responding to tweets and speaking highly of your brand. Twitter gives a business access to the conversation surrounding the brand’s identity, and a savvy social media team can engage a customer base in a style that befits your company’s image.
Being knowledgable about the culture of Twitter is critical, as well. The Epoch Times points out how Subway went to Twitter to complain about a satirical article concerning their “SUBtember” campaign, posted on humor website The Onion, and sparked a negative response from many users. Subway dropped the social media ball when they drew the Twittersphere’s attention to something extremely shareable, doing more damage than good, and coming off as humorless and foolish. The lesson? Don’t just be involved in your brand — be involved on Twitter.
Be Real. Be Prepared.
Customers in today’s information age have easy access to the truth, and if they catch you being less than honest and direct, the fallout can be irreparable. An angry customer on Twitter can undo tens of thousands of dollars of expert marketing with one clever hashtag. It’s vital you treat your Twitter-using customers with respect.
Make sure your employees understand what’s expected of them on social channels like Twitter. Make sure they know how high the stakes are. Common sense, empathy, and good manners comprise most of the skillset for dealing with customers on a public channel. Especially important is moving public conversations to email or telephone to resolve customer issues out of the public eye. With sensitivity to Twitter and its idiosyncracies, you can successfully incorporate Twitter into your customer service toolkit.
Big companies such as Dell, Starbucks, Southwest Airlines have created a brand image worth talking about by addressing customers directly through Twitter connections and helping them in a straightforward and friendly way on Twitter. Small businesses can do the same. Once your business masters Twitter, you can help extend that exceptional digital customer service to other social networks.