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  • Richard Wardrop

Should you have a separate customer service Twitter account?

Customer service on Twitter

Many brands on Twitter have a dedicated support channel to separate marketing activity from customer service. But is this the right approach for your brand?

We look at the pros and cons to help you deliver the right strategy for your business.

Ever had an experience with a brand that was so bad you had to vent about it on social media? We’ve all been there. Whether it’s a quiet enquiry or a full-scale rant, 90% of social media users have used it to communicate with a brand.

In fact, nearly 35% of consumers say that they prefer contacting a company over social media than over the phone or email. It’s fast, informal and there are no hold times. Most importantly though, it’s public. This makes each customer comment an opportunity for you to showcase your brand values and build advocacy online.

Adding to a growing trend, brands such as Nike, Samsung and Three all use separate channels for customer service queries on Twitter. Whereas SSE and Sainsbury's use one account for both marketing and customer care. But which approach works best? There are a few things to consider first…

Advocacy on social media: content, community management and customer service

The size of your business

Many businesses start with just one account handling brand engagement, ads and customer service. This can help consolidate all your followers to one place. However, if you find there are more complaints sliding in to your DMs than brand related enquiries, it may be time to consider splitting the account in two.

Though it’s not just the size of your customer base you need to think about in this decision, managing two accounts could potentially double your workload. Splitting your Twitter presence in two might help ring fence some of the less attractive parts of social media but by having a presence dedicated exclusively to customer service, you’re committing to people’s already high expectations. 72% of consumers on Twitter expect a reply to their complaint within less than an hour, which may be unrealistic if you’re the sole person that manages social media for your brand.

Customer habits

Do your customers take to Twitter every time they have an issue? Or are they more likely to call or email? Naturally the volume of customer service queries your brand receives will impact the decision to split the Twitter channel in two. If it’s manageable from one account, then you may save yourself unnecessary work by keeping it that way.

Are your brand engagement posts swamped with customer complaints? This is a common reason for wanting to separate your Twitter accounts. Giving your followers a dedicated account on Twitter for customer service can encourage dissatisfied customers to channel negative experiences to one place, hidden from new or prospective customers. However, this can also be an opportunity. When it comes to making a purchase, 64% of people find customer service more important than price - demonstrating how well you handle a problem from your main brand page can be extremely appealing to potential customers.

Domino's Pizza customer service

Tone of voice

A relaxed, fun and potentially cheeky tone of voice can often work well for brands on social media. But how transferable is this when dealing with customer service? If you choose to have two Twitter channels then you need to make sure there is consistency with the way you speak to your customers. Think of brands like Paddy Power who have established a reputation for having fun with their customers. They currently have a dedicated customer service channel on Twitter. You can tell it’s the same brand from the relaxed language and tone but the customer service page without a doubt focuses more on service than sass.

Tesco Mobile are another brand well known for dishing out cheeky replies on Twitter. This brand have gone full circle on the Twitter split: Originally managing everything from one account then branching out to having a dedicated customer service Twitter channel (perhaps after ruffling a few feathers with their replies…). Finally, they’re closing the Twitter customer service page on October 1st 2018 and returning to managing everything from the original account.

Tesco Mobile Twitter customer service

Structure of your business

If social media customer service is likely to be a full-time job for a person or team within your business, then it’s important they work closely and communicate effectively with the social media marketing team. Consider the customer journey; a follower tweets the brand account and receives a response from the customer service team. This handover needs to appear seamless regardless of what went on in the background.

A good relationship between marketing and customer service will also help avoid ‘double-handling’ an interaction where both teams reply to the same customer. On a similar note, you need to make sure the correct team knows what they should and shouldn’t be taking ownership of to avoid tweets going without a reply.

There are tools available which can help you manage this relationship by automatically routing interactions to the right queue or person. Many of these platforms offer services for social marketing and customer service teams to make sure you’re all singing from the same hymn sheet.

  • Conversocial

  • Lithium

  • Sprinklr

So which option is better? Both approaches have distinct advantages depending on your needs and there’s no right or wrong answer. What we can say for sure is that social media customer service is a growing market not to be ignored.

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