Apple recently launched Apple Support on Twitter to give customers another way to ask questions and get help for their device issues. Our friends at call Twitter the new 1–800 number for good reason: With more than 320 million active users and a platform built for delivering fast communications, it’s a natural fit for interacting with customers.

Apple is just one of the brands investing in support on social. Many other companies have already jumped on the opportunity and opened up support channels, and we’re sure to see a surge in the near future. In our 2015 State of Service report, we found that among all service leaders surveyed, the use of social media monitoring technologies will increase nearly 2x in the next 12–18 months. Let’s look at a few reasons why opening up a Twitter support channel gives you another weapon in your service arsenal.

Faster responses

Slow service is often cited as one of the top service pain points, so it’s no wonder that the possibility of instant, personalized service is alluring. According to Twitter’s own survey of its users, some 60% of consumersexpect brands to respond to their tweeted customer service requests within an hour. By nature, the platform enables both customers and agents to communicate quickly, leading to faster resolution times. The result? Customers are more satisfied and have better experiences with your brand.

Drives conversation to other channels

One of the most beneficial aspects of Twitter is its value as a conversation driver or facilitator. It allows you to have quick and informal conversations with customers, but due to its 140-character limit, it’s not a great place to address more complex issues. Instead, companies can connect with a customer quickly and invite them to continue the conversation on a channel where they can get more information — via direct messages, email, phone, live chat and so on. And this approach of leveraging multiple channels seems to be working for businesses: High-performing service teams are 7.6x more likely than underperformers to rate omni-channel interaction capabilities as outstanding or very good.

Integrated social data in CRMs

When social data is integrated into your existing CRM, it enriches your customer profiles and provides up-to-the-moment insights into your customer’s needs. Your entire organization benefits from this data which gives customer service, marketing and sales teams a dynamic, complete picture of individual customers. You get the same level of insight from your more traditional channels, using already familiar tools, dashboards, and metrics, all while meeting the customer where they’re doing the talking. Aside from the benefits of gaining a more complete view of the customer and quicker issue resolution, companies can leverage social data to provide tailored recommendations to customers.

Proactive interactions

This one is a huge advantage. Most of the time, customer support is reactive, but by monitoring Twitter streams for keywords and phrases, agents can proactively reach out and offer support. Feeds are a two-way conversation, so agents can initiate conversations, ask people what they want to know, or offer advice. You can also use these customized streams to monitor and address known problems before the angry tweets come flooding in. By proactively heading off the problem, you’ll be able to demonstrate you can quickly handle any customer service troubles that come your way. And when combined with new predictive smart technologies, teams can learn even more insights about customers in order to deliver better experiences. Salesforce Research found that 55% of high-performing service teams say they’re able to predict customer service needs more than 80% of the time. A proactive approach results in smarter pairings of service issues with service agents, better-informed agents, and in turn, more personalized customer interactions.

Socialized customer service is still in it’s early stages, but there’s no going back to more traditional channels. Customers have come to expect fast, personalized service on the channels they’re using, and won’t settle for mediocre or poor experiences. By leveraging tools like Twitter, companies can connect and engage with users quickly and efficiently, while building better customer relationships.

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So how do you deliver the kind of customer service that makes for happy customers rather than frustrated ones? Check out our interactive e-book to learn 4 Steps to Incredible Customer Service.