It’s Twitter Tip Tuesday — every Tuesday we’ll focus on one Twitter Tip and show you how to integrate it into your social media strategy.

This week we’re profiling a real-world Twitter Success Story. We’ll show you how Wells Fargo & Company — a financial services company based in San Francisco, CA — increased positive sentiment about its brand by 38 percent and incorporated Twitter as its most effective customer service tool.

A History of Innovation

In the early days of its history, when it still operated the “Pony Express,” many of Wells Fargo’s competitors were threatened by the introduction of the new technologies of the day. The Transcontinental Railway and the accompanying telegraph line signaled the end for delivery companies that were not willing or able to adapt. Where others failed to leverage these new advances, Wells Fargo & Company embraced them, finding new ways of delivering its core services in tandem with these new systems.

Fast forward 160 years (yes, you read that right) and Wells Fargo & Company is still innovating when it comes to delivering its services to its clients. “We still consider ourselves trailblazers,” says Kimarie Matthews, VP of Social Web marketing for Wells Fargo & Company. On Twitter since 2009, Wells Fargo was among the first financial services brands to have a presence on the social network.

The company, thinking about the personal nature of social media communications, chose to customize its Twitter account, making it more accessible and approachable for its customers. “Other banks at the time had generic company named Twitter accounts, if they were on Twitter at all,” says Matthews. Instead, “we went with @Ask_WellsFargo, which not only had a specific call-to-action, but it also seemed a more personal way to interact with a bank,” says Matthews. Since then, “many of our competitors have copied us,” adds Matthews, reiterating that the personalized connection we’ve come to expect with our banks was was largely originated by the Wells Fargo & Company.

Methodical Monitoring

Wells Fargo & Company has always made it a point to listen to its customers. Its presence on Twitter is no different. “We have 80 different lines of business at Wells Fargo,” Kimarie says, “so we have a very complex set of search queries in place on Twitter to make sure we don’t miss any mentions of our brand.”

In addition to employing third-party social media management software, Wells Fargo has even developed its own proprietary system to measure and interpret customer sentiment about its brand. Ms. Matthews proudly says that, “we can tell when a customer is talking about us, and we take that opportunity to engage with that customer right from the first tweet.”

Matthews provides an example of a hearing-impaired customer who tweeted about a broken audio jack on one of its ATM machines. Within a few minutes of the tweet, the monitoring team reached out to that customer on Twitter, found out the city and location of the broken ATM and sent a crew out to repair it. The team followed up with the customer, thanking her for her tweet, apologizing for the inconvenience and letting her know that the problem had been resolved.

Ms. Matthews states that it’s the customers themselves who are driving the desire to interact with Wells Fargo on Twitter. “When we started on Twitter in 2009, we’d get between 200 and 250 incoming customer service related tweets a month — now we’re getting about 2500 tweets a month,” says Matthews. “In that time, we haven’t really increased our resources dedicated to Twitter,” she says, “we’ve just gotten much better at mining all that incoming data to make sure we respond in the most effective, efficient manner.”

Planning and Integration

Although Twitter is primarily a customer service tool for Wells Fargo, it involves every department, from sales and marketing to operations and management. Ms. Matthews says that most customer service departments have a certain, standard way of dealing with customers and that “they’re not always looking for innovations,” she says. By involving the marketing department that’s “all about coming up with new ways to do things,” the result is not only a better service but also a better way to deliver and promote it.

Senior management is also very heavily involved in the Twitter customer service function. Using advanced monitoring techniques (alluded to above) the customer service team can identify specific tweets from customers that warrant an escalation to second-tier support. Wells Fargo has created an “Executive Office” — escalated support customers are dealt with by management staff that has the authority to resolve problems and implement solutions on the spot. “We’ve developed a system that can detect problems and resolve them before they get out of hand,” says Matthews. This level of support and the resulting customer satisfaction, “just wouldn’t be possible without the buy-in of all our departments across all of our lines of business,” she adds.

When asked if she could provide one piece of advice to other enterprise businesses trying to figure out how to maximize Twitter, Matthews states unequivocally, and succinctly: “Planning.” She says that “social needs to be woven into every product and every department,” and that it shouldn’t simply be implemented in an ad-hoc way. Matthews says that in order to really transform your business, you have to think about how Twitter can be incorporated into the entire organization, not just within customer support.

Have a Twitter Success Story of your own? If so, we’d like to hear from you.

[Image credits: Wells Fargo History Museums, SurfaceWarriors, Jorge Macri]