Top 4 Twitter Customer Service Blunders


Have you ever tweeted a complaint about flying? Between endless flight delays, gate change announcements and lost baggage, airlines get a (deservedly) pretty bad rap when it comes to customer service. Thousands of fliers take to Twitter to vent their frustrations about the not-so-friendly skies each day. Forbes even published an entire guide entitled “How to Complain to Airlines on Twitter.” So with airlines like British Airways making pretty big customer service blunders like this... may come as a surprise that one airline is gaining a reputation for actually being pretty thoughtful in the customer service department. JetBlue engages quickly and goes the extra mile, even if there’s no immediately obvious brand gain with a response.

In the above example, it’s pretty clear what went wrong with British Airways: a prompt response could have stopped the original tweet from spreading like wildfire through the twittersphere, and the airline’s eventual
tone-deaf reply only compounded the problem. (For the record, British Airways has since enhanced its Twitter customer service team to provide 24/7 support.) Brands that excel at Twitter customer service follow the Jet Blue model: they’re friendly, responsive, personal and accessible.

With customer service being one of the leading reasons Twitter users give for following brands, having a Twitter account is no longer optional for businesses. Big or small, businesses can’t afford to not have an active Twitter presence. In the last two years alone, the number of customer service-related conversations has more than doubled on Twitter, according to the social network’s blog. Without a Twitter account, you’re missing out on important customer conversations, and should customers tweet anything negative about your business, you won’t be in a position to respond.

As the previous tweets from British Airways and Jet Blue show, however, having a Twitter account is just the first step. It’s what you do with this account that matters most. Is your company’s Twitter customer service helping or hurting your brand? Watch out for these common customer service blunders:

Twitter Blunder #1: No dedicated customer service Twitter account.
Don’t let a customer’s complaints get lost in the shuffle. With a dedicated Twitter account, your customer service team will be best positioned to respond quickly, often and efficiently. When responding, use the Twitter user’s name as well as your brand rep’s name; 77 percent of consumer are more likely to recommend a brand following a personal customer service interaction. For example, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (@KLM) has a team of 150 employees covering 14 different languages ready to assist with booking, rebooking, check-in, seat choice and a host of requests. While your business may not need a team of this size, even one dedicated customer service coordinator for a prompt Twitter response is better than having problems go unaddressed.

Twitter Blunder #2: Failing to respond promptly.
Even if you can’t solve the problem immediately, a prompt acknowledgement and response goes a long way to easing customer frustration. For example, my business uses HostGator for our hosting solutions and I recommend my clients use them as well. One of the things I really like about HostGator is their customer service. In addition to their 24-hour U.S. based call center, HostGator’s dedicated customer service Twitter account (@HGSupport) actively answers tweets and DM's, quickly solving any hosting problems that might come up.

Twitter Blunder #3: Getting into a tit-for-tat with customers.
Keep the customer service golden rule in mind at all times: the customer is always right! (And yes, this is true even when they’re wrong). The tone of your tweets not only impacts how customer service problems are resolved, but also impacts your brand’s reputation. According to Twitter, 82% of customers who have an unfriendly Twitter interaction with a brand’s customer service rep are unlikely to recommend the brand. On the flip side, 76% of customers who had a friendly interaction are likely to recommend the brand. If you can’t immediately solve a customer’s problem or require additional information, DM the customer or take the conversation offline so you can work out an appropriate resolution without the entire world watching.

Twitter Blunder #4: Acknowledging the problem but failing to offer a solution.
Your initial response tweet to a customer service complaint should be prompt, friendly and empathetic. But that’s just the first step. You still need to provide a solution. Yes, showing sympathy and offering to help can truly go a long way, even if you can’t immediately solve the problem. That said, failing to offer any resolution at all isn’t good either. And once the problem is resolved, send a quick follow-up tweet to be sure your customer is satisfied with the resolution, like NikeSupport did here for a Nike+ Run user.

Bottom line:
Whether it’s Twitter, Yelp or another online forum for reviews, rankings and rants, it’s never possible to please all the people all the time. However, by being friendly, responsive, personal and accessible when customers do have a problem, you’ll build stronger brand loyalty and increase the likelihood for brand referrals – and you might even make a customer’s day.

About the Author

Brian Hughes

Brian is a seasoned digital marketing expert who loves to write about subjects that help small businesses grow their brands and increase their rankings online.

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