Twitter as a Customer Service Tool — How to do it Right and Avoid Doing it Wrong

Alexander Pryce
May 27, 2020 · 6 min read
Twitter in focus: Photo by NurPhoto

Imagine you have been a faithful follower of a brand for years. One day you have a negative experience that leaves you bitter and you turn to a friend to complain — we’ve all been there. Only these days that friend you turn to is, in many cases, an online platform allowing you to broadcast your dissatisfaction further than any megaphone known to man (and woman). You may call a help center seeking a resolution, but long wait times and poorly selected hold music have us grinding our teeth before any resolution is even in progress — we’ve all been here too. What if there were a way to quickly get the help you need in as little time as it takes to send a short text message? No hold time. No music stuck in your head for days competing with Lady Gaga’s newest hit. No visits to your dentist. That’s where Twitter comes in.

Twitter, among its many uses, has evolved into a platform for customer service in recent years. It allows companies to observe mentions about their products and services in real-time, and provides an opportunity to identify and address the unsatisfactory experiences of disgruntled customers. When a company uses Twitter to provide support to their customers, it can also help to humanize their brand and strengthen their connection with customers. Customer service on Twitter is broken down into the following three stages:

Stage 1:

Direct Mention Issue Resolution

In this stage, a company representative resolves issues directed at @brand and @care usernames.

Stage 2:

Broad Issue Resolution

In this stage, a company representative resolves all Stage 1 issues AND those with brand/product mentions by responding to every Tweet that seeks resolution in a quick and effective manner.

Stage 3:

Proactive Engagement

In this stage, a company representative searches the entire universe of Tweets (from direct to broadcasted), and responds with issue resolutions or a positive message.

The good and the bad.

In this section we take a dive into one good and one bad example of real companies at each stage of customer service on Twitter.

Stage 1 — Direct Mention Issue Resolution

A direct mention occurs when a Twitter user writes to an @brand or @care username. The comment is made publicly, and any response (or lack thereof) by the company addressed will also be visible to the public. This creates a unique opportunity for a business to resolve an issue for a customer and have their earnest efforts simultaneously benefit the brand’s public image.

The Good: Warby Parker

Warby Parker, a trendy eyeglass retailer, appears to be very consistent with their replies to direct mentions. In the example below we observe a kind, apologetic, helpful tone from the Warby Parker customer service representative. It acknowledges the user’s concern, provides helpful information, and invites the user to further communicate with them privately to chat further.

Good Direct Mention Resolution: discovered on Twitter @WarbyParkerHelp

The Bad: Xbox

Oh boy. Someone link this article to the support team at Xbox. This user contacted two different Xbox handles seeking an answer to their inquiry. Xbox responds a few days later with an incredibly dull, grammatically incorrect, and lazy reply. It does nothing to acknowledge any dissatisfaction the customer is experiencing, it offers no resolution in the interim, and it does little to provide an avenue by which to pursue a resolution. Try again Xbox.

Bad Direct Mention Resolution: discovered on Twitter @XboxSupport

Stage 2 — Broad Issue Resolution

Just because someone doesn’t contact a business directly asking for help, that doesn’t mean there isn’t help to give. When a customer has a broad issue, they share it more as a complaint than a request for help. In this instance, they often address the product or service rather than the company itself. A customer service representative is responsible to resolve all Stage 1 issues AND those with brand/product mentions by responding to every Tweet that seeks resolution in a quick and effective manner

The Good: Wendy’s

Wendy’s has established themselves as one of the most engaging and fun brands on Twitter. It’s all fun and games until someone is missing their bacon! Wendy’s responds directly to their dissatisfied customer and brings the conversation into a private space to resolve the issue. This often occurs when something like a refund is in order since it requires the communication of personal and private information the user likely does not want to share publicly.

Good Broad Issue Resolution: discovered on Twitter @Wendys

The Bad: Subway

Let me be up-front and acknowledge that it has only been two hours since this disappointed customer Tweeted about his unsavory experience at Subway. However, even two hours can feel like eons to a disgruntled customer. By not responding, or failing to respond promptly, businesses miss out on an opportunity to go the extra mile and show how eager they are to make it right. Often times more customer loyalty can be earned by sincerely resolving an issue than by never having an issue.

Bad Broad Issue Resolution: discovered on Twitter @_neurologica

Stage 3 — Proactive Engagement

This occurs when a company representative actively searches the entire universe of Tweets (from direct to broadcasted), and responds with issue resolutions or a positive message.

The Good: Starbucks Coffee

In this example, Starbucks reaches out to a customer who is sharing a positive experience. There is not issue here, but Starbucks seizes the opportunity to make a lasting impression on this customer (and the internet) by reaching out with some positivity.

Good Proactive Engagement: discovered on Twitter @Starbucks

The Bad: Dunkin’

It’s been days Dunkin’… c’mon. While a couple hour long delayed response may be forgivable, a couple days is downright negligent — and the clock is still ticking! Dunkin’ missed an opportunity to make it up to this customer. They’re probably a Starbucks customer now.

Proactive Engagement Bad: discovered on Twitter @rebeccahadley14

Conclusion

Twitter has proven itself to be a tremendously valuable resource for businesses to resolve the inevitable issues their customers will face. When a customer experiences an issue with a product, service, or brand, they are likely to take to the internet to voice their dissatisfaction. Having a dedicated, empathetic, and knowledgeable customer service staff trained to monitor and engage with these users should be a priority for businesses large and small.

So next time you have an issue and you can feel yourself starting to grind your teeth down to dust, take to Twitter to voice your concern. Many companies are out there waiting to help customers such as yourself who are experiencing issues — those who aren’t will soon learn how important it is to dedicate resources to developing this channel. So hang up the phone, send a quick Tweet, cancel your dentist appointment, and press play on Lady Gaga’s Rain On Me. Help is on the way.

The Startup

Get smarter at building your thing. Join The Startup’s +788K followers.

By The Startup

Get smarter at building your thing. Subscribe to receive The Startup's top 10 most read stories — delivered straight into your inbox, once a week. Take a look.

By signing up, you will create a Medium account if you don’t already have one. Review our Privacy Policy for more information about our privacy practices.

Check your inbox
Medium sent you an email at to complete your subscription.

Alexander Pryce

Written by

Alexander Pryce is a student at Temple University just trying to get an A.

The Startup

Get smarter at building your thing. Follow to join The Startup’s +8 million monthly readers & +788K followers.

Alexander Pryce

Written by

Alexander Pryce is a student at Temple University just trying to get an A.

The Startup

Get smarter at building your thing. Follow to join The Startup’s +8 million monthly readers & +788K followers.

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store