While the age of social media means brands have access to instant, one-on-one conversations with their customers for marketing and customer feedback purposes, it also means that customers expect brands to respond quickly to customer service issues and complaints.

Twitter is one of the best platforms to use for types of conversations, which is why it’s important to learn how to use it specifically for handling customer support requests.

Read on to find out why Twitter customer service is so valuable as well as our top 7 tips for providing effective customer support on the platform.

Why is Twitter customer service important?

Twitter is a fast-paced social media platform that caters well to online conversations, making it the perfect platform for brands to turn to for social media customer service. Consumers want easy access to help and support from brands, and Tweeting is one great way to do that.

But the most important reason that your brand should take Twitter customer service seriously is because your audience is likely already having conversations about your brand there, and you need to be able to find them and respond to them in a timely manner.

Twitter customer service doesn’t necessarily have to be all about responding to issues and upset customers, though. It also involves simply answering questions and making the process of buying from your business as easy as possible.

Here’s an example of Slack responding to a general knowledge question from a user within just a couple of hours.

Screenshot of Slack's Twitter customer service

Looking at some of their other responses, it’s obvious their team is on top of their customer service – some replies are sent within minutes!

This swift response time impresses customers, increasing word-of-mouth marketing potential and lengthening customer relationships.

Let’s dive into our top 7 tips on creating an effective Twitter customer service strategy that will get your audience talking – in a good way!

7 tips for an effective Twitter customer service strategy

1. Determine your Twitter customer service strategy

Your first step is to put together your plan for providing customer service through social media. What is going to work best for your brand? Who on your team is going to take lead in your social media customer support strategy?

These are important questions to answer before you get started. If you have a community manager on your social media team, they’re going to be the perfect person to respond to support questions–or at least put together a plan for how to respond to different types of queries.

You might decide to have them monitor your brand’s main Twitter account specifically for support-related mention, or it may work better for your team to create a separate account just for support like we see in this example below.

Robinhood's support Twitter account

Once you finalize your avenue for Twitter customer support, it’s just as imperative to understand the issues you’re prepared to handle online. Make a list of issues that your customer care department can solve/support effectively through Twitter, and be sure to highlight your support website for additional resources and more complex questions, like you see above in @AskRobinhood’s bio.

2. Respond to issues quickly

Promptness is going to be key when it comes to Twitter customer service. According to our research on response time, 40% of consumers expect to hear back from brands within the first hour of reaching out on social media, while 79% of consumers expect to get a response within the first 24 hours.

This means you need to have a plan in place to monitor brand mentions so you can quickly reach back out and resolve any issues.

Here’s a stellar example of a prompt response from Goodreads. The first tweet was sent at 7:53am ET asking for help closing an account, and Goodreads’ Twitter team swooped in with a link to more information just two minutes later, at 7:55am ET.

Goodreads responding to a customer support question on Twitter within two minutes

While it won’t always be possible to be this quick with your responses at all hours of the day, it is a good rule of thumb to respond to all tweets sent during business hours within the hour and respond to any tweets sent afterwards within 12 hours.

3. Know when to move conversations off-platform

You’re simply not going to be able to resolve every support issue in 280 characters, so you need to develop policies for escalating and rerouting the issues that need to be dealt with off-platform. This is particularly important when dealing with private information that can’t be shared publicly or when the conversation continues to grow more complex and time-consuming.

Here’s an example from Google Drive’s Twitter account as they work to help a customer with a draft that disappeared from her Google Docs. After sending a few tweets back and forth, they directed her to their support team for further help. They also mention that the customer can keep them posted, creating a feeling of consistent support even as they hand off the interaction to another platform.

Screenshot of Google Drive's Twitter account helping a customer

It’s a good idea to compile a document with each of the items your Twitter support can handle, as well as where to lead customers if it’s something that needs more direct or in-depth attention.

You can also use Sprout Social’s Saved Replies feature to help guide your responses and the help you should be giving. Save text responses to your asset library so you can easily send Tweets to help your customers out. This is a great way to save out links to specific resources so team members don’t need to look them up, or save information that should be kept stylistically consistent like product names and details. Your team can then focus on building a personalized response to individual messages around this core information.

Sprout Social asset library

4. Don’t ignore feedback

Ignoring negative conversations about your brand online can make everything much worse than if you had addressed it head on initially. Don’t give canned responses either or try to avoid responsibility. Show that you care about the feedback and plan to work to improve things so it doesn’t happen again.

Likewise, it’s important to follow up on the conversation when you get positive feedback beyond just giving the message a Like.

Take a look at how Chewy handled this customer feedback from a Tweet:

chewy feedback example on twitter

They followed up quickly with the customer on Twitter, even though the issue had already been handled by the support team via phone, where the customer’s initial complaint had already been resolved enough for them to post a public compliment.

This interaction helps put a public face on their quick response time and thorough resolution for the customer’s shipping address issue, and reiterates the importance of responding even to positive feedback in a meaningful way to build customer relationships.

5. Showcase your brand’s personality

When you’re handling customer service issues, you still want to keep your brand voice and personality throughout your communication. Creating engaging replies such as using images/GIFs/video can be a great way to keep in touch with your roots.

Of course, whether this is appropriate or not may depend on your overall industry as well as the severity of specific complaints, but this is another item that should be covered in your overall customer care policy.

Take a look at this tweet from Pop-Tarts, a brand who loves to be sassy online.

Screenshot of a customer service response from Pop-Tarts showcasing their brand personality

Their response to this complaint is less formal than most, staying true to their brand personality. Make sure your own Twitter customer service responses are always genuine and match your brand.

6. Monitor your brand mentions

This is the best way to get alerted to conversations surrounding your brand, whether they’re bad or good, and respond to them in a timely manner. In order to do so, you need to set up your social listening dashboard in a tool like Sprout Social.

Put together a list of topics that you want to follow on social media including keywords like your brand name and its iterations, like abbreviations or common spelling variants, and include additional keywords specific to your industry.

Then you can easily keep up with social conversations and step in to help out your audience.

7. Humanize your support team

One last way to really make your Twitter customer service stand out is by letting your audience know that there are real people behind the handle. You can approach this in different ways depending on how your overall brand voice is structured: you might refer to your team as ‘we,’ include initials or names as a sign-off to messages, and use conversational language as appropriate for each response.

Nike uses a conversational but sincere tone and ‘we/us’ references to reflect the team of real people behind their account:

nike twitter support example

If you choose to go this route in your Twitter support strategy, be sure you’re creating an overall humanized context such as use of emotions (“we’re excited about this too”) or a more personal tone (“this isn’t what we like to see”). Don’t just rattle off a form reply and add on initials to offset a dry response.

Online customer service can be frustrating for customers who want to know they’re talking to a real person, so building in reminders that there’s a human behind the handle is a great way to reassure your audience.

Create your own effective Twitter customer service strategy

These seven tips should have you well on your way to putting together an effective Twitter customer service plan so that your customers always have great interactions with your brand online. Good customer service equates a good reputation, so it’s time to make sure you’re being as helpful as possible.

Take advantage of Sprout Social’s features to help keep track of all brand mentions and respond accordingly. Request a demo to learn more about how Sprout Social can empower you to overhaul your community management.