If you haven’t considered utilizing social media as a customer service channel before, 2016 is the year to learn how and why you should be engaging and interacting with your customers over services like Twitter! No matter how you personally feel about communicating with your customers over social media, businesses are quickly learning that they simply don’t have a choice.

It’s All About Providing Great Customer Service

When it comes to serving your customers, especially existing customers who have questions or concerns about your products or services, you have to embrace the channels that are comfortable and convenient for your customers, and you can’t leave them waiting. Imagine if your customers lined up at the front of a brick and mortar store, waiting for someone to address their questions and concerns, but no one at your company was willing to engage them – it would be a customer service nightmare! Now imagine that your customers are “lining up” on Twitter with questions and concerns for your company, but no one is listening. Even though you don’t physically see your customers lined up, when their questions and concerns are not addressed by your company, the experience can be just as frustrating or even infuriating. Why should your company embrace Twitter as a customer service channel, and how difficult is it to actively engage your customers on an ongoing basis?

Active Engagement At 140 Characters

The easiest way to conceptualize Twitter as a communication platform is to consider the ways that you utilize text messages in your personal and professional life, as Twitter was originally designed around the international text messaging standard. This was the original reason that tweets were limited to 140 characters, as early Twitter users often sent and received tweets via text message. When you send a text message, even more so than a message sent via email, you expect an immediate response. Twitter users who engage companies over social media expect the same – they want your company to engage them quickly and acknowledge their questions or concerns. Luckily, Twitter and associated social media management platforms make it extremely easy for you or a designated representative at your company to know when your Twitter username is mentioned in a tweet, even on the go! Finally, the 140 character limit on tweets naturally leads to brief, concise, and “to the point” questions and answers. While it is possible that your customer may stretch out a question or concern over multiple tweets, chances are they want to keep the communication simple and tailor their question to fit within the limit. Your response, in turn, can be just as “to the point”, or you can move the conversation to another channel, such as via email or phone.

Make Sure Your Communication Is Consistent And Reflects Your Brand Voice

While the immediacy and convenience of social media can be a benefit to both you and your customers, it’s important to always remember that the “Internet is forever”, which refers to the fact that user-created content posted to the Internet, including social media networks, can remain online semi-permanently. No matter how comfortable or at ease you may eventually feel while utilizing a service like Twitter as a customer service channel, you cannot allow your responses to become unprofessional or inconsistent. A public tweet is accessible to both new and existing customers, and services exist that preserve tweets even after a user has deleted them. To ensure that you or your designated representative stays on message, consider creating guidelines for addressing customers over Twitter, and if you feel unsure or even frustrated or angry by a customer’s tweet, take the time to regain your composure and draft an acceptable response, or immediately ask the customer to move the conversation to another channel.