Providing Customer Service on Twitter

Providing Customer Service on Twitter - #TwitterSmarter chat with Dan Gingiss on March 19, 2020

What’s the first thing you think of when someone says customer service? Email? Chat? Lengthy waiting times on a call? While most of us are well-accustomed to the traditional channels of proving customer service, we can’t ignore the undeniable role of Twitter in catering to customers.

Every day, we see hundreds of people taking to Twitter to lash out against a brand, sharing a negative experience, and potentially destroying the business’s reputation. On the flip side, there’re also a few people who appreciate brands on Twitter. How do you provide the best experience and service for your customers on Twitter? We asked customer experience consultant, Dan Gingiss. Here’s a summary of our chat.

Guest: Dan Gingiss
Topic: Providing Customer Service on Twitter
Format: Eight questions directed at the guest. Everyone’s welcome to share.

Q1: Why is it important to offer customer service on Twitter?

Twitter started off as a platform to offer customer service, in addition to the standard email and phone support that most businesses are used to.

However, nowadays, it’s more of an essential part of every business’ media strategy. Not only are you helping one customer when you’re responding to their tweet, but you’re also sending a message to the rest of the world that you’re available and willing to support customers.


Being on Twitter not only increases your reach, but it also helps you listen to what your customers are saying. As Jim pointed out, even though it’s likely that most of your customers will reach out on Facebook, there’s always a portion of them tweeting out, both appreciation and complaints.

If you’re still looking for a reason to offer support on Twitter, consider what Maria said: Twitter is the place people go to take a break from their usual social life. So for instance, someone who’s regular on Facebook, could also occasionally send out a tweet that could easily gather momentum and initiate conversations. You don’t want to lose out on that.

All that said, however, never underestimate the importance of following your customers.

Q2: How can brands be more proactive on Twitter?

Go the extra mile and look for brand mentions that aren’t tags. When someone @mentions you on Twitter, you get a notification—that’s the easy part. However, there’re hundreds of other mentions that don’t tag you or include your hashtag. The only way to notice them is to listen, constantly.

Like Kassie reminded us, one way to keep up with these untagged mentions is to use social media monitoring and management tools. With dedicated tools, you can start engaging with more people, establish relationships, and even form a committed community.

To give us a better understanding of what being proactive means, our guest shared a couple of examples:

  • Hilton hotels staff members offer restaurant recommendations to anyone looking—regardless of whether they’re a Hilton guest. That’s a great way to establish your brand across a wider audience without being exclusive to your customers.
  • Duke Energy, a large electric power holder in the United States, often offers storm updates and weather news that might potentially affect services. That’s another good way to keep the community updated even if they’re not direct customers.

Q3: Should individual employees respond to customers from their personal handles?

There are mixed feeling about this one. Although our guest said he’d prefer to have a single, consistent voice for the brand, that doesn’t mean your employees can’t ever respond to customers.

Sometimes, it can be too much for a brand to handle everything. In that case, employees can help out, for as long as the brand states them as a verified source for information.

However, as our friend mentioned, you should also consider the potential risk that an employee’s tweet poses to the brand as a whole. If the employee’s personal opinions and tweets are contradictory to your business’s policies, that could harm your reputation.

Q4: What are some important things to consider while engaging with customers on Twitter?

The most important thing: don’t ignore anyone. It’s essential that you acknowledge and respond to every mention and question. Not only does that increase your credibility with that person, but it also showcases your brand as responsible on social media. You don’t have to solve their issues right away—that’s not practical. But you can give them your ear and respect, and that’s what you should do.

It’s also worth remembering at all times that Twitter is a public forum. Your response is visible for the entire world. Be careful of what you say and how you say it.

Another factor to keep in mind is that you’re you. Showcase the real you to your community. As Rita suggested, humanize your brand whenever possible, and engage in real-time conversations. Use GIFs and images to liven your profile, and if you’re confident enough take it a notch further, create custom GIFs.

There’s a lot to say about direct messages. Most people tend to use that feature for sales pitching, entirely forgetting that it’s a means for genuine conversation. One of my favorite hashtags is #DownWithDMs. However, when used properly, direct messages are an invaluable way to serve with your customers.

Since a lot of issues and complaints that people speak of on Twitter are all related to their individual accounts, you may be dealing with emails and other sensitive contact details. That’s when it’s ideal for you to take to direct messages.

Q5: Share some tactics to keeping up with customer grievances on Twitter.

Often, the person behind your brand’s Twitter handle responds to a customer’s complaint, but will forget to report and follow-up the issue with the customer support team. When that feedback loop breaks, you end up with distressed customers and a negative Twitter presence. It’s the duty of the social media manager to make sure every customer gets a complete response.

In typical customer service jobs, people are trained in ways to respond to different types of customer questions. That helps prepare you for the myriad of issues that you might face when upset customers tweet out to you. As Lance said, try and monitor the issues your customer service team is dealing with on a daily basis so that you know how to respond if someone tweets out asking if there’s a service disruption or an upcoming feature.

Ever heard that a standard response time on Twitter is 2-4 hours? It’s not always do-able, especially if you’re in a different time zone, but that’s the nature of Twitter. People expect quick responses. Try and reply to every query as soon as you can, even if all you can say is that your team’s working on it. That gives the customer some peace of mind, assuring them that you’re there for them.

Dan also pointed out that when customers complain about your brand, it shows that they care enough to let you know. They could’ve dumped you for your competitor, but by choosing to tell you what you need to fix and how, they’re meeting you halfway, and rooting for your success. Be grateful and show that in your response.

Here’re a few other ideas our community shared:

  • Be polite. It may not always be straightforward what your customer is trying to say. Show that you’re trying to understand their problems and doing your best to solve them.
  • Think like your customer. You wouldn’t want to call in to customer support and have your call diverted to five other people before they tell you to call back later. Then don’t do that to your customers.
  • Don’t use template responses. Every customer is unique, and treat them as such. Personlize your messages so that they feel more connected to you and your brand.

Q6: How is customer service on Twitter different from emails or calls?

The obvious distinction is that Twitter is more public, and unlike calls, written. That’s why it’s so important to double check your spelling, tone, hashtags, and potential PR reach.

Since Twitter is a transparent medium, take this opportunity to show the world how you are as a business partner. Your response to one customer could become the indicator for your business policies.

Another important difference that you should keep in mind is that unlike in emails and calls, people don’t always share in-depth issues on Twitter. Most mentions could just be a casual inconvenience or something specific to their account. Even then, respond and show that you’re eager to help.

And of course, as Andrea said, Twitter is ultimately an engagement platform. When you’re working with a customer to resolve their issue, you’re also setting the groundwork for future engagement with your content. A happy customer will always be up for sharing your blog posts and participating on your polls.

Q7: Are there any tools that help enhance customer service on Twitter?

Dan’s expert advice is to use a tool that’s designed from a customer service or call center perspective, instead of just a social media management point of view. That way, you get a more direct and complete view of a customer’s problem, their history of conversation with your support team, and some background information on your response.

Some of Dan’s recommendations include Clarabridge, Conversocial, Freshdesk, Zendesk, Sprinklr, and Sprout Social. There’re plenty more, of course. If you’re looking for a straightforward Twitter listening tool that’s also free, look no further than Tweet Deck. It’s excellent for individually monitoring hashtags, lists, notifications, messages, accounts, and more.

Tristan shared an excellent tip as well. If you can manage it, track your Twitter customer service on your CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software as well. That way, if you’re also checking your customer service team’s responses from your support software, you get a complete picture of your customer’s purchase history and satisfaction rate. That’s invaluable information to decide how you should respond to them on Twitter.

Of course, don’t forget the best tool you can have: humans who really care. Make sure your customer support team and the person handling your Twitter account are empathetic and can keep a level head under pressure. You want them to be considerate communicators.

Q8: What are some companies that offer great customer service on Twitter?

Dan’s favorites are Discover, Southwest Airlines, Xbox, Intuit, TMobile, HP Computers, Imperfect Foods, Punkpost, Ask TSA, Chewy, and Sipsmith Gin. Go check them out—you’ll find a lot of inspiration there.


Natalie also shared some of the regular names we come across on our #TwitterSmarter chat, including Jay Baer, Madalyn Sklar, Starbucks Coffee, and Nike.

Well, that’s all from me this week. For more insights from our chat with Dan, take a look at this Twitter Moment that Joana put together for us. And if you’ve got some free time on Thursday, join us for the next #TwitterSmarter chat at 1pm ET.

Hope you’re all staying safe and vigilant in these strange times. If you’re struggling and need someone to talk to, hit me up any time. And go easy on the toilet paper, folks. Ciao.


About me, Narmadhaa:

I write all things—technical and marketing copy to fill the pocket; haiku and short stories to fill the soul. A social media enthusiast, I’m a member of the #TwitterSmarter chat crew, and always happy to take on writing gigs.

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