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Social media has created a great opportunity to respond to and engage with customers in real-time. Let’s be honest, in the early days of Twitter many of us, myself included, used the social platform as a way to be nosey (I think I still do sometimes). It was and is, a great way of knowing what’s going on right at that moment. Its messages are short, sweet and direct and in a fast paced world, it’s ideal for busy people. However, as it’s popularity increased, businesses started to get savvy and begun to use it to create conversations with their customers.

It’s no longer acceptable to simply use social media to listen to your customers - businesses need a strategy to ensure they’re keeping up with the customer service revolution and part of this is effectively using social media to drive satisfaction and loyalty.

So how can you use Twitter for effective customer service?

1. Be alert.

Twitter is immediate and public so stay awake.

Monitor mentions. For example, if your business specialises in selling bespoke furniture, set up Twitter to automatically track hashtags related to your competitors, colour trends and home styling vocabulary. Monitor conversations that focus on furniture reviews, new product launches and seasonal sales. Through doing this, you can respond in a timely and efficient manner to both your current followers and those followers who may not have directly tweeted you but who are interested in the industry and products you manufacture and sell.

2. Don't leave people waiting.

Research from The Social Habit highlighted that consumers using social media to communicate with businesses expect a speedy response. 42% of those expect a response within 60 minutes and 32% expect one within 30 minutes! However in reality, customers are often left waiting.

Research by BDRC Continental found that some brands are keeping customers hanging on for up to 19 hours for a reply! It’s important to remember that customers often turn to social media because the business has already failed to satisfy their needs so leaving them waiting will either see increased dissatisfaction or a lost customer. Managing your customer service effectively also means managing customer expectations and the reality is that customers expect a speedy response.

Discover ten more tips for providing excellent customer service.

3. Learn from those doing this well (and not-so-well).

Social media triumphs and blunders are everywhere. Even the giants of the business world can get it wrong so take this opportunity to learn from their mistakes.

Retail businesses have been pushed to the forefront of this social media customer service revolution. It’s not that you’ve asked to be first in the queue but it’s simply because of the amount of people businesses like yours reach – you have to follow the trends that your customers live by. Here’s a not-so-good example…

The clothing brand Zara came up against considerable online criticism towards the end of last year following a series of mistakes. First came the fashion blunder (a baby’s pyjama top that has been likened to clothes worn by Jewish concentration camp prisoners) and then came the awful example of customer service.

Instead of rectifying a customer issue received on Twitter in a personalised and thoughtful way, Zara responded to each tweet with exactly the same response. On one hand this could ensure a timely response but it that really all customers are looking for?

Ultimately, customers are looking for honest, helpful and friendly engagement. Each time you tweet, you are creating an opportunity to develop a relationship with the user, which could turn a complaint into custom or may even turn a customer into a brand advocate. Make it count.

For more information and actionable steps to address your Social speed, mobile experience and conversion rates, check out BigCommerce’s 3 Proven Strategies to Drive Ecommerce Growth.

If you have any tips or examples for how you use Twitter to deliver customer service, let us know in the comment section below!

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About the Author

Hannah Green is Head of Marketing at Creare where she writes content on useful topics for SMEs. Creare provide digital marketing solutions and are passionate about empowering businesses to grow and achieve greatness. With support, tools, advice and guidance at hand, Creare provide a solution that small businesses can take hold of and run with.