While we know Twitter can be a great platform for marketing and PR, allowing for the near-instantaneous, mass distribution of news, content and press, what about using Twitter for customer service? Many companies may shy away from such a public forum for interacting with disgruntled consumers, but Twitter has become the primary soap box for many to voice not only outrage, but also satisfaction with both products and services alike.

So, what is a company to do? Only retweet happy users’ tweets and blatantly ignore complaints? With more and more people posting their gripes on the popular social media platform, companies may not have much of a choice over whether or not to use Twitter for customer service. Being seen as ignoring customers may even be far worse!

In a recent Washington Post article, Daria Steigman, founder of Social Biz Smarts, noted that “because of Twitter’s searchability, a business’s ‘dirty laundry’ is very visible — but so is its ability to respond to angry as well as satisfied customers.”

While much customer service may go on behind the scenes through direct messages and email, a public tweet simply apologizing for the user’s trouble and directing them to an email address or solution could be reputation-saving for the company. What’s more, this level of engagement helps make companies seem more personal and strike a good balance between both talking and listening. Many companies use social platforms simply to talk, talk, talk about themselves, which can feel very self-serving, instead of using social media to listen, engage and respond to what else is going on in the industry and interact with customers, partners, prospects and other industry thought leaders.

Despite being such a public forum, companies shouldn’t fear using Twitter for customer service, as customer tweets aren’t always negative. In a recent study from ZenDesk, the customer service software company found that customer tweets sent to brands were primarily innocent questions about sales, store locations, etc. at 48 percent and 10 percent were feedback or requests for a new product, whereas 33 percent were complains relating to a specific issue and only 9 percent were negative comments about the company. Check out the infographic here.

If you issue a tweet about a company or brand, do you expect them to get back to you on Twitter? There have been many customer service success stories, including Cision, Comcast and JetBlue – so, will more companies follow suit and start addressing customer issues via the ever-growing, social media platform? It only seems logical that if consumers want to use it for such, companies should follow suit. What do you think?

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  1. Hi Meredith,

    I agree that the question is no longer whether to respond to customers using digital platforms to complain, but how. Companies that develop respond protocols in advance and have the right policies and guidelines in place are going to be better able to make quick decisions in real time that resonate with their audience. Can you always make a customer happy? Of course not. But if you’re open and transparent in your conversations, the rest of your audience will take note.

    Daria Steigman
    September 11, 2012

  2. Hi Daria – thanks so much for your comment. I enjoyed your take on this topic further in the Washington Post article and agree, no one can please everyone all of the time, but with a plan in place, at least companies can interact and engage with their customers more comfortably in a public setting!

    Meredith L. Eaton
    September 12, 2012
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