Customer service, as we know it, is dead. Patience, as we know it, is dead. Social networks in general, and Twitter in particular, killed them. This is news that affects you as a brand – affects you more than you can imagine.
I manage JustUnfollow‘s Twitter account and we run a weekly #JUQOW (JustUnfollow Question Of The Week) campaign, wherein I ask our over 715,000 followers one question every week. Our most recent #JUQOW asked users whether they had used Twitter to contact brands. If yes, did they hear back? They answer to the first question was an unanimous yes, while the second one tottered between yes and no.
You can’t have a presence on Twitter and not expect to encounter people asking you to answer their questions and issues about your service. Twitter and its propensity of allowing people to connect in real time, to contact in real time and to receive responses to their queries in real time, has changed the way brands, big and small alike, interact with their customers.
Despite the fact that Twitter’s customer service potential is no longer a potential, but a reality – one that is thrust on you, it is surprising that so many brands choose to ignore it.
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If you are responding and interacting with your current and prospective customers, be prepared to be loved:
If not, they wouldn’t mind swearing at you:
They Are Talking About You, Make Them Talk With You
People are talking about your brand on Twitter. Don’t have a Twitter account? They’ll talk nevertheless. They are also taking their complaints and issues with your service to their twitter followers. This is something you want to address immediately, not something you can let get blown out of proportion. Also, twitter users have long memories – as this brand found out:
What is your brand’s twitter account like? Do you only tweet and tweet, using your profile as an advertisement or bulletin board? Then you are missing out on the whole point of twitter – which by definition is a social ‘networking’ platform. You don’t want to miss out on the huge opportunity it presents to let you get in touch with your customers. Besides, you don’t really want to be on the receiving end of a social media backlash, do you?
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A quick reply, a hello, a mention from a brand means a lot to people. It sends them over the moon, they retweet it and are incredibly happy.
If you are proactive in engaging with your customers and prospective customers, you will not only build a brand following on twitter, ROI from social media will no longer sound like a myth.
Some Reputation Management Tips
- Reply to tweets mentioning your brand as soon as possible, preferably within minutes, but latest within a day
- Reply to the good and the bad. Brands, when they get good feedback constantly, tend to take them for granted. Don’t. Reply back and you’ll make your already happy customer happier. There are some that think ignoring bad feedback will make it go away. Do not take the ostrich approach, respond to bad feedback sooner than you do the good one. The bad feedback is what will actually tell you what’s wrong with your product, the cribbers are the ones who’ll get you to improve. They are important and don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.
- Don’t restrict your tweets to responses – use your twitter account also to proactively interact with your twitter followers. Tell them about your latest happenings, ask them for feedback.
- Ensure that your tweets encourage interaction – ask questions that will get responses (the way we do with #JUQOW), share nice quotes and jokes that will get you retweets and exposure.
- Keep your DM line open too. Don’t be afraid to follow your followers back, especially when they ask for it. Following your followers back will open the DM line of communication, and the more lines of communication you have the better.
- Teach your social media staff how they can respond to issues. If they know the asnwers and can reply directly, well and good. If they can’t, teach them to direct those tweets to the right person. For instance, on JustUnfollow’s Twitter we direct the highly technical questions that I cannot answer to be emailed to our support inbox.
- Respond to the inane tweets too. You never know how loyal those tweeps have been.
- Surprise your customers on Twitter occasionally. Hold giveaways or small contests.