Major companies, like Dell, AT&T, and Wells Fargo, have been using Twitter for customer service for a couple of years. More and more businesses are harnessing the power of Twitter to connect with customers and clients in a quick and personal way. Solving problems with social media is becoming the norm, but how can you use Twitter to serve your own customers better?

Why the platform works so well

With Twitter, even large companies can give their brand an authentic, human voice. The social network is all about conversation, so using Twitter to connect with your clients and customers is the next best thing to having a conversation with them.

This personalized approach works perfectly when you want to respond to customer inquiries. Even though your responses will be short, you can respond quickly and directly, so your customers know you are serious about providing excellent customer service. And when you do provide that stellar customer support, a customer can tweet how great their experience was with you. This gives you authentic, organic word of mouth exposure.

Twitter is a powerful search tool, as well. You can use it to seek out negative comments made about your products or company. After all, if you want to fix problems, you’ll have to find them first. Instead of getting defensive, you can reach out to those customers and find a way to make it right. You can also seek out positive comments so you can thank the commenter, in hopes that they will continue their public praise.

Getting started with Twitter for customer service

If you are just getting started with using Twitter for customer service, here are a few best practices to consider as you plan an effective strategy.

1. Put the right people behind the tweets

Hiring the right people to interact with your customers and clients on Twitter is a must. You need to be able to trust them because they will be representing your brand in a very public way. Your Twitter bio should describe who is behind the tweets, and you can even create a custom background with details about your employees as well as their pictures.

2. Set up a dedicated Twitter account

Cluttering your main Twitter timeline with individual customer service tweets is not ideal, so you will want to set up a Twitter account just for your customer service interactions. Using social media management tools to organize this account will help you stay on top of customer questions and be sure not to leave any unanswered. You can monitor keywords, such as your business and product names and reply to tweets as appropriate.

The challenge is keeping your customer service and public relations activities separate. Customer service tweets help resolve problems and provide helpful information. If a conversation extends beyond an individual’s problem, hand it off to PR.

3. Be responsive and active

Since Twitter is up and running 24-7, some customers may expect to have their concerns addressed no matter what time it is. Since that scenario is unrealistic, it’s a good idea to state the hours that your Twitter customer service account is open. Along with your Twitter hours, include alternative ways to reach the company.

Another good idea is to hold scheduled “tweet chats” to answer specific types of customer service questions. Advertise these times and invite people to join in. The key to keeping up with customer service demands on Twitter is scaling your resources to meet their needs.

4. Take it offline if you need to

Since you only have 140 characters to respond, Twitter is best used for simple customer service questions. Identify which types of questions would be better addressed offline, especially when they are personal in nature.

Other ways to address such concerns include direct messages, email, or telephone. Be sure to train your staff to recognize when a problem should be handled on a less public platform. And remember that direct messaging on Twitter is a great bridge between customer service tweets and shifting the conversation to another platform.

With so many major companies using Twitter for customer service, your customers and clients are learning to expect this service from you, too. Pay attention to what companies, such as Delta and Comcast, do to serve their customers quickly and effectively on Twitter.

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