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The Advantis team recently delivered our ‘Twitter for Customer Service’ training session to front-line customer support personnel at a municipal transit organization. Over the three-day training session many questions were raised by attendees – in particular they were concerned about how to provide the excellent customer service they were known for with only 140 characters at their disposal. We’ll share their top three questions and the answers in a series of blog posts entitled “Twitter for Customer Service”.

This particular team was making the leap from traditional one-to-one channels like phone and email to Twitter — a one-to-many, real-time monitoring and response workflow. The customer service team comprised a mixed group of customer service professionals, from digital newbies to digital natives.

Some common questions were raised by attendees:

  • “With only 140 characters, is it possible to serve our customers effectively on Twitter?”
  • “Should we to respond to every Tweet that mentions our brand name?”
  • “How do we handle situations where we’re not sure how to respond?”

Evolving your customer support model to include Twitter takes time and some heavy lifting. In addition to introducing a social media policy, existing processes will have to be modified and new workflows need to be developed. During this planning phase, questions like those above should be addressed.

Let’s start with the first question, and in the next two posts we’ll address the remaining questions.

Question 1:

“With only 140 characters, is it possible to serve our customers effectively on Twitter?”

Customers want to be heard and have their issue addressed. You may not be able to provide complete resolution in a single post given the limited space available on Twitter, however you can likely solve simple issues and you can certainly make them feel heard and let them know that you are working on their issue. It’s OK to take the conversation off-line for complete resolution. The key is to respond in a reasonable amount of time so the customer is not left hanging. For busy customer service departments, you will also need a social media platform for routing and tracking inbound comments.

While 140 characters may not seem like a lot, much can be communicated. There is a tendency for those new to Twitter to drastically limit the number of words they use. The result can affect the tone of the response. For example, responding to a compliment with “Thanks” is not quite as effective as “Thank you. We appreciate your compliment!” To extend the limits of Twitter, include hyperlinks to additional content – this can help you share a lot of information quickly.

In the next two posts we’ll peel back the onion and address the next two questions that were raised. If you have any questions regarding how to use Twitter for customer service, feel free to leave us a comment. Stay tuned!