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Twitter_iconIn today’s super-competitive business world, customer service determines the winners and losers. Gary Vaynerchuk, a digital marketing legend, says in his book The Thank You Economy: “It’s very logical: There is proven ROI in doing whatever you can to turn your customers into advocates for your brand or business. The way to create advocates is to offer superior customer service.”

It is crucial for a business to keep its clientele happy and show potential customers how well it can function. Providing good post-sales experience on social channels like Twitter and Facebook will not only help you retain customers but also acquire new ones.

However, despite the tremendous potential of Twitter to aid customer service efforts, businesses continue to be skeptical of using it for this purpose.

For businesses that do not rank Twitter as the most effective channel for customer service, here are 7 reasons to get on board:

1.     Provides Real-Time Response

Consumers now expect faster response for their concerns. It is quite frustrating for them to have to wait on the phone or for an email to arrive when they are facing a pressing issue. This has led them to use platforms like Twitter to vent their dissatisfaction and get a prompt response from companies. According to The Social Habit Report, 42% of Twitter users expect a response to their customer service issues in under an hour.

Twitter is a lightning fast platform that allows you to deal with customer concerns and feedback in real time. Some businesses are even creating separate Twitter handles for customer service to quickly spot and flag customer service-oriented tweets.  For instance, @NikeSupport is Nike’s Twitter handle dedicated to answering all customer service questions.

2.      Delivers Personalized Service

Twitter allows you to have a conversation with one single customer instead of with all your followers, using the complainant’s Twitter handle preceded by the @ sign. This makes interactions personal. Customers love a personalized message, especially if they are having a problem.

Sending disgruntled customers direct messages is another way to respond to them in a personalized manner. DMs are extremely useful if you want to explain the solution of a problem in detail. You can send 2 to 3 DMs in a row without cluttering your business’s Twitter stream with @replies for other customers.

3.      Saves Time

Replying to customer problems on Twitter will save you a lot of time. Unlike when you solve a customer’s problems on phone or via email, your other followers will be able to see your customer service skills play out in real time. Also, by solving one customer’s problem, you may be able to address those of many others.

4.     Offers Some Great Tools  

Hashtags can provide an effective means of tracking and following conversations. By using a company specific hashtag, you can invite people to contact you for help on Twitter. You can even use hashtags related to your industry to solve common issues. Hashtags, thus, help in making customer service even more effective.

5.      Tracks Information

There are about a billion users active on Twitter. Your audience is present on Twitter, and regardless of your presence on this platform, your customers can get negative about you on it.

If an angry and frustrated customer tweets something bad about your business and you fail to reply to that tweet in time, chances are it could go viral. This can result in a heavy loss for you. So monitor @mentions, hashtags and keywords related to your brand to spot issues and solve problems before they become crises.

Twitter has great metrics in place that allow you to see the number of mentions you receive over a period of time as well as your rate of response. ,. These metrics can help you predict spikes in customer service needs so that you can prepare for them in advance.

6.      Keeps Your Customers Up-to-date

Twitter can be used to fight misconceptions and/or incorrect interpretations by others during crisis. You can tweet continuously about an incident and what you’re doing to address the matter. Twitter is a great platform to send out consistent and reassuring updates when people are feeling anxious and vulnerable.

For example, Southwest Airlines (@SouthwestAir) used Twitter effectively to keep people updated after one of its planes landed nose first at the LaGuardia airport in 2013.

7.     Builds Trust

An appropriate and immediate response is critical for managing your online reputation. Using Twitter to answer queries and complaints will show your audience how quickly and effectively you can handle their queries. Responding to their issues instantly through Twitter will ensure them that you are not just trying to sell, but also listening to their issues with your products. This will make you more credible and trustworthy in their eyes.

Bonus Point: Attracts Potential Customers

If someone tweets a problem using a hashtag related to your industry, even if it has nothing to do with your company specifically, you can solve their issue if you spot the tweet in time. This will earn you praise, possibly a new customer as well, which will ultimately translate into a competitive edge for you.

Twitter lets you provide customer service publicly and in real time. When you converse with your customers on Twitter, lurkers are also able to see how you deal with customer complaints in general.

When executed well, customer service offered through Twitter can help turn brand fans into customers and establish relationships that lead to additional sales.

June 26, 2014

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