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How and Why to Use Twitter for Customer Service

I know this is a blog generally reserved for mystery shop talk, but let’s discuss Twitter for a moment, shall we? The Internet has really complicated the way we deliver customer service and interact with our customers. I would argue that it’s both brought us closer to and distanced us from our most engaged, passionate customers: It gives us intimate insight into their thoughts and opinions, but if we miss out on what they’re saying or, worse, ignore it, then we’ve missed a huge opportunity to do right by them.

Honestly, with services like Twitter gaining popularity, every customer can be a mystery shopper of sorts. The key here is never to take these users’ comments at face value; examine them as a whole, listen to everything that’s said, and always look at the bigger picture — but never ignore the individual.

There have been books written on how and why you should use Twitter for customer service. I could probably write one here. And there are a lot of great examples out there of major companies using Twitter — Zappos, McDonald’s, Comcast, Whole Foods, Starbucks — but they all have one thing in common… THEY LISTEN.

The biggest mistake a company can make on Twitter is using it only to blast out content. Information on sales, specials of the day, news releases, random information about hours and such…well, it doesn’t matter. The more you write about yourself, the more you’re talking into a void of Twitter irrelevance.

Say you’re a restaurant. Your server would never walk up to the table and start talking incessantly to the table. There’s certainly room to discuss the specials and make recommendations, but there needs to be a conversation to figure out what the customer wants and how the restaurant can accommodate.

If the kitchen screws up the order and the customer complains, would the server gloss right over that complaint and take the dessert orders? Would he ignore a very clear message from the customer and simply bring the check? Of course not — but that’s what many companies who fail at Twitter do.

Yes, there are plenty of dos and don’ts to providing good customer service on Twitter, but the biggest one is this: You have to listen. Set up alerts for your business’s name. Find local users who are interested in the types of services you provide, and talk to them. Even if they aren’t talking about you. Start a conversation.

If they are talking about you — good or bad — use that opportunity to let your personality shine. Show them who you are; show them you care. You’d be surprised at what you can accomplish when people realize there’s a human behind your brand, especially when that person is caring, compassionate and concerned with their satisfaction.