Twitter has become known as the channel for customer service, far surpassing its social counterparts such as Facebook or Instagram. The channel has carved out a role as the place where you are able to send questions to huge brands (Tesco, Virgin and Waterstones to name but a few) and get an almost instant response. This means that for brands and businesses, a great customer service voice, quick response times and a foolproof system are all essential to turning disgruntled potential customers into supportive brand advocates.

In this guide, we look at how you can win at customer service on Twitter and become known as one of the great brands who always reply and help their customers to feel valued online. Without it taking up hours and hours of your time.

Let’s dig in!

Customer Service on Twitter Guideress_js(""); >

1. Create consistent online customer service

For your customers to get the response they want they have to know when you’re online. This can be achieved as simply as displaying the opening times and current handle in your pinned tweet and bio.

Customer service opening times in Twitter bio

As you can see in the example above, Tesco Bank’s Twitter help handle displays opening times, a guide on how to use support (don’t post personal data) and even their most responsive hours.

Secondly, you’ll need to think about consistency in your response. Once it was fine to set up one boiler template for all customer queries, send it out and job done! Customers would be sent to your website or phone lines for help. Nowadays, audiences expect much more.

Creating policies to clarify what’s expected from your customer service representatives and how they can ensure customer queries are being heard is vital. There should be a clear understanding amongst all team members of how to react to customer queries and even the tone of voice to use.

While sensitivity is key when it comes to complaints, it is often humour which helps a brand to stand out. Companies such as Sainsburys and 02 have all had customer service success by using humour to respond to customers and turn anger to laughter.

sainsburys customer service tweet

The key is knowing when humour is appropriate and when a serious response is required, then making this consistent across all communications.

2. Be personable

Prior to bots taking over our customer service channels, customer service replies on Twitter come from people – not brands. This should show! A human tone of voice, empathy and a little understanding goes a long way when it comes to placating customers and taking their concerns seriously.

Automated customer service support cannot possibly cover all eventualities and is a recipe for disaster. Customers usually choose social media support over phone customer service in order to avoid automated services; and they feel more appreciated when engaging with a human being. The casual atmosphere of Twitter, coupled with its character count limit, allows a customer representative to be a little less formal than they would be on email. It’s important to take advantage of this whilst still maintaining a level of professionalism. Tailoring your ‘tone of voice’ to your brand’s persona and the platform (Twitter) is an effective way of humanising your Twitter support team.

One way personality can shine through is by initialing your tweets. Posting the initials or name of a customer service representative at the end of every tweet is a simple and effective reminder to customers that they are interacting with a human. This is something that some of our favourite social media tools (including the guys at Buffer) do every time they’re online.

Buffer customer support on Twitter

It’s also a great way to track team members’ interaction with customers and create accountability if you have multiple employees in charge of customer support. Studies around online customer service show that it takes 12 positive experience to make up for a single negative experience and 59% of Americans would switch companies for better customer service. Personality and a voice, will help you get there much faster.

3. Get to know your customers

We all know the customers who interact with our brand on a more regular basis, whether looking for support or just asking a question. Making them feel great should be a top priority as getting to know your customers is another way to ensure a personalised experience.

Some social media tools such as Sprout Social allow you to add notes to the Twitter users you interact with to share amongst the team. Imagine how useful this could be in remembering a preference from one of your top users to mention in conversation, or avoiding something that you know they dislike. One of the requirements for verified users in Twitter is for the user to add their birthday to their profile. What a great opportunity for you to remember and tweet out to your most loyal Twitter fans when the time comes.

While most customer service is inbound, making customers feel great is one sure fire way to win over your competitors and become known for amazing customer service online.

Verified Twitter account Jack Dorsey

Happy birthday for Thursday Jack!

4. Manage the conversation

If a user turns to Twitter to ask for customer support, you have to consider where the conversation might end up. If it’s appropriate and timely to support the customer still within Twitter then that’s great. However, sometimes it may be neccessary to move the conversation offline, or to a direct message  and guidelines should be set for when to make this call.

Don’t move the conversation offline to try and save embrassment or to hide what’s going on as users can see through this behaviour immediately. Only move things to a ‘safer’ channel if there is a need, for example you need to ask a customer for their account number, address or something of a sensitive nature.

Recently, Twitter has introduced a ton of new features for direct messaging, making this easier than ever for customer service channels. Twitter’s direct messages have become more dynamic than ever with read receipts, typing indicators, and web link previews, as well as the extended character count that was rolled out late last year.

Twitter's direct messaging feature

You can also create deep links within tweets that allow you to embed a call to action, such as ‘Send a Direct message’. This allows customers to easily navigate between tweets, mentions and direct messaging. A study by Twitter showed that customers who are sent a clickable DM prompt followed through 30% more often than those who are asked to send a DM via text only.

5. Use Twitter tools for better customer service

Using tools allows you to plan and analyse your customer service efforts and respond to tweets much more effectively. Social listening tools (such as Twilert, Tweetdeck and Respond by Buffer) help ensure that you don’t miss tweets within your feed.

Many of our customers use Twilert’s email alert function to create digests that condense all of their customer support queries. The search function also allows you to take this a step further from just direct mentions alone. For example, most customers will probably include your @user handle when they tweet you, but there are plenty of others who mention you by name online or even those who may make a common typo when sending in the heat of the moment.

Twilert’s search function allows you to setup complex search queries that catch all of these mentions and email them to you in one digest, for you to respond to. Imagine how many more potential customers you could turn around if you were truly listening in to the online conversations that were happening each day.

In the below search, a simple keyword search for @target OR ‘target’ 🙁 has bought up over 80 tweets sent recently where the brand Target has been mentioned and most of them don’t contain the handle at all! More importantly, many are actually positive interactions where customers are speaking highly of the brand. Following this up with a like or a reply could go a long way in rewarding customers for their loyalty and extending the brand love. When you combine this with Twilert’s email alert function, it makes it easy to extend your customer service to all customers, as you can reply and respond from one daily or realtime email.

Using Twilert for better customer service

6. Look for opportunities to turn the system around

Hearing what your customers say on Twitter gives you free insight into your brand and how it is perceived. Even the more negative feedback gives you an insight on how to improve your business, and, ignoring unsatisfied customers only further infuriates them. Responding to issues via Twitter can also help increase your revenue in the long run. Twitter conducted a survey on the customer relations between an airline and passengers on its site, revealing that users who received a customer reply on Twitter regarding an issue were more satisfied with their service experience than on other platforms, and that they were willing to pay $9 more for the airline in the future.

In response to customer complaints and negative reviews, empathise with your customer. Don’t be afraid to apologise if your customer has had a bad experience with your product. Remember that you can express your apologies without necessarily assigning guilt or blame.

Apologising on Twitter

7. Respond quickly

A study showed that 53% of Twitter users expect brands to reply to their Tweets in less than an hour. Does your brand exceed that? Customer service online or in person is customer service, and ideally, the speed at which you would respond to a customer if they walked into your store is the same as that which you would online.

Again, tools and systems can help you to ensure a quick response within your customer service on Twitter. Whether you prefer using Tweetdeck and having it open, ready to scan your mentions each hour, or whether you use Twilert to get email alerts, both can help you ensure you respond more quickly. This takes away the need to sit dedicated to Twitter, by giving you a reliable stream of tweets that can be ticked off, to help keep your customer service Twitter inbox tidy.

8. Use advanced Twitter search to track all brand mentions

As we mentioned above, not all of your customers’ tweets will fall into your mentions or DMs. Sometimes, we need to actively search for them and ensure we stay on top of the entire conversation happening across the web. Tracking @mentions, #mentions and mentions of your company name gives you the full picture.

For example, we have a Twilert dedicated to the below:

twilert mention advanced search

This allows us to see Twilert mentions to our handle (@twilert), Twilert mentions in feed (‘Twilert’) as well as hashtag mentions, but most importantly, it excludes tweets from our own handle and also retweets of our tweets.

This is by far our most important customer service tool as unlike Twitter itself, it cuts the noise and allows us to see one single digest, via email, of all of the important tweets we need to respond to.

9. Be proactive in your customer service

So far, we have looked at interacting with users who have mentioned your brand online. But what about those that don’t? One of the most powerful ways of providing customer service is to set up your brand to be able to deliver exceptional customer service to those who weren’t directly asking.

Look for opportunities to provide extra support such as looking for people who are having issues that your product can solve. This way you can convert prospects into customers.

One way to do this, is to setup a Twilert, Twitter search or Tweetdeck column that tracks to:competitor 🙁 (swapping ‘competitor’ for the handle of a competing service or product). This search will allow you to see mentions where your potential customers have contacted a competitor and aren’t very happy, whether this is due to a missing feature, bad service or something else entirely that you could help turn around.

As we have mentioned in this Twitter search guide, you can also use keywords to find potential customers who are looking for your service or product and reply to them directly. Keywords such as ‘I wish’, ‘can anyone recommend’ and ‘who knows of’ added to your specific service or product will help narrow down the users who could be turned into customers in an instant. This allows you to provide outbound customer service across Twitter and helps customers solve their problems at the same time.

A look at some of the Twitter users asking for lunch recommendations

Making great customer service on Twitter easier

The amount of responsibility that falls to social media teams is growing. But with the right actions, tools and support, customer service online doesn’t have to be difficult. If you’d like to setup a free trial of our Twitter monitoring tool Twilert to help you along the way, head to – we’d love to see what you can do!


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