Twitter: Avoiding a Customer Service Nightmare

Special Guest Blogger: Heather Robinson

Social media is often seen as both a blessing and a curse to businesses. On the one hand, it gives us access to a huge audience of potential customers for next to nothing, but on the other hand, it opens a channel of communication which, along with phone and email, requires careful management.

Thankfully, there are tools out there to help us monitor mentions of our brand and respond quickly to comments. Hootsuite is one of those tools which is free for those with three or fewer social media accounts to manage. It’s great for those who want to get more from their activity on Twitter and really listen and engage with their followers.

If you’ve been using Twitter a while, you’ll know that you can get notifications when someone mentions you in a tweet, but only if they use your official Twitter handle (@username). There will be people who tweet about you using your company name which won’t trigger a notification from Twitter. This is where Hootsuite comes in.

You can set up a ‘stream’, which is basically a feed of tweets, that contain your company name and variations of it. This will show you in real time when people are talking about you and allow you to respond appropriately. (For more information on Hootsuite and to set up a free account visit:

It’s so easy for customers to say what they feel publicly via a tweet, rather than provide feedback privately. This is all well and good if the feedback you receive from customers is always positive, but how do you deal with comments that are negative and suddenly in the public realm?

Rule 1: Respond immediately, whether you have a solution or not. It’s important to acknowledge the comment straightaway and let the customer know what will happen next. For example, you may need to investigate their case, raise it will another member of staff or a manager or simply buy yourself time to find a suitable solution. By responding immediately, you’re letting the customer know they are important and you’re taking their comments seriously.

Rule 2: Apologise and don’t argue with the customer, even if you disagree. Remember, it’s not personal and despite what you think, the customer is always right (at least in their own minds). Remain professional in your response and empathise with the customer’s situation. The aim is to resolve the issue as amicably as possible, not to win a fight. In every complainant, there’s a potential brand advocate, so be nice!

Rule 3: Take it offline as soon as you can. Most complaints can be dealt with more effectively over the phone or email. Don’t try to battle it out in public as those tweets can hang around a long time; even if you delete them.

Follow the person on Twitter then ask them to send you a direct message (DM) with a contact number or email address for you to contact them privately. You need to be following the person to receive a DM from them unless you’ve changed your communication preferences to allow anyone to send you DMs.

In conclusion, Twitter is a wonderful medium for getting your message out there, but it’s important not to get too enthusiastic and forget about the potential messages coming back at you. With one free tool and three common sense rules, you can be more effective at managing customer feedback (good and bad) on Twitter and maintaining your brand’s reputation.

Heather Robinson
Digital Marketing Consultant and Author

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