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Customer Support on Twitter: A Bufferchat Recap

Jul 20, 2016 8 min readBufferchat

This week on #bufferchat, we were joined by one of Buffer’s Twitter Happiness Heroes, Darcy Peters, as our guest! We discussed the best tools and workflows for support teams, how to approach negative tweets, how to go the extra mile for customers, and more!

Catch our weekly Twitter chat, #bufferchat, at TWO times every Wednesday for valuable industry insights and networking with nearly 400 other smart marketers and community managers. Same topic, same place, just at different times – feel free to join in to whichever chat time works best for you!

For our community in Asia and Australia (or anyone in other timezones that like this time the best!): 4 pm AEST (Sydney time, UTC+10)

For our community in North/South America, Europe and Africa (or others!): 9 am PT (California time)

Customer Support on Twitter, a #bufferchat on July 20th, 2016

This week’s stats:
1st Bufferchat: 103 participants; 376 tweets; reach of 941,755
2nd Bufferchat: 203 participants;1,789 tweets; reach of 1,499,376

Q1: As a customer, what does a positive customer service experience on Twitter look like to you?

From Darcy:

  • Video answer: “Hi friends! A positive customer service experience for me, as a consumer, would entail: (1) A greeting with empathy, just understanding how I must be feeling dealing with this. (2) The second would hopefully be a solution to the problem if we could get there, allowing me to save face if I made the mistake, and also [them] apologizing if there was an error on their end. (3) and the third would be to allow me to go on with my day, with a smile on my face, just happy with the interaction (that might include some emojis or GIFs).”

From the community:

  • “Quick response, sincere commitment to resolving the situation in a satisfactory way. Twitter needs to happen FAST.” @Lauchlin
  • “I need the company to at least acknowledge any concerns I have and show they care. Being completely ignored means I’m gone.” @MilwaukeePPC
  • “Quick and friendly. But feeling like I’m talking to a person is more important than immediacy.” @_lblake
  • “Empathy and an obvious desire to resolve an issue far outweighs how quickly it comes (within reason).” @SocialGamePlan
  • “More personal, the better. Especially showing an understanding to what I may have said rather than a canned response.” @MattQuanstrom

See all the great answers to question 1 here!

Q2: In your opinion, should support conversations happen in direct messages or public tweets, and why?

From Darcy:

  • Video answer: “I think it’s super cool if we can keep things as public as possible! For one, people will see the answer to maybe a bug they’re dealing with. We also get evidence of others who might be seeing that same bug when they interact with us in that conversation. And then, also, people can see how we interact with our customers! Of course, it’s super important to take things to DM if they’re sharing account information or payment information. But, if at all possible, I think it’s super great to keep things public.”

From the community:

  • “A mix. Always want to move toward private, personal. But it’s also important to let rest of world know you are being responsive.” @dariasteigman
  • “If your support outcomes are all in DM, the rest of your customers only see a stream of problems & issues aimed at your brand.” @Kimota
  • “I think it’s best to begin with a public response that tackles the issue head on, then provide more care / detail w/ DM.” @RareVicRec
  • “Client-specific support convos need to happen via DM or email. If info is of value to every customer, tweet it out.” @ShereesePubHlth
  • “If you’re going to keep it private, companies should still give notice in a tweet so that followers know you respond timely.” @MktgInnovator

See all the great answers to question 2 here!

From Darcy:

  • Video answer: “I’m sure it comes as no surprise to you to hear that at Buffer, we use Buffer Reply to answer our tweets! We pull in @ mentions we want, we pull in hashtags that we want to see, and then we also block out text that we don’t want to see, perhaps, in spam messages and things like that. There are so many great tools out there – I can’t wait to see what you use! In the past, I’ve also used SparkCentral, Tweetdeck and Nurph!”

From the community:

  • “@getrespond [now @bufferreply] makes Twitter support workflows a breeze!” @samigrady
  • “Create a campaign informing users of a special hashtag they can use for all support-related tweets.” @graphic_cash
  • “Make sure you have the staff to check mentions and support the responses. The more timely the better.” @rouxroamer
  • “Have someone dedicated to customer relations and social listening. We use @HubSpot to keep up.” @optimizemybrand
  • “Tools like @Zendesk can automatically ingest tweets. Have a dedicated support account for this.” @MSLJim

See all the great answers to question 3 here!

Q4: How do you approach negatively toned tweets?

From Darcy:

  • Video answer: “Negative tweets… oh no! It’s going to happen, right? We’ve all been frustrated before and, likely, if someone is feeling frustrated at our tool, it’s because we’ve done something wrong, we’ve caused confusion, or at least it’s something we might be able to fix or clarify. So the idea is to work together to get from frustration to happiness, or at least understanding at the end. And to let the customer know that their feelings are valid.”

From the community:

  • “Important to approach neg. tweet with a non-defensive, listening & problem-solving attitude.” @_nicolemich
  • “Breathe. Don’t just respond, but take time to understand context & possible interpretations. Proactively ask 4 more info.” @ZalkaB
  • “We aren’t superhumans and nobody likes negativity. Don’t internalize it. Just reflect back positive energy.” @AKKerani
  • “Put yourself in their place & respond accordingly. Understand the issue, use empathy, resolve +, thank them for reaching out.” @anthonydlarsen
  • “Display a human side. Understanding and showing empathy can go a long way to calm situation.” @DatGreenblatt

See all the great answers to question 4 here!

Q5: What are great workflows to implement when multiple people on your team are answering support tweets?

From Darcy:

  • Video answer: “We have found workflow to be so important so that we don’t miss support tweets! For our volunteers [The Twitter Squad] we have a tagging system so that they can tag support tweets with “heroes” and then we also have an assignment feature, so that we can assign it to ourselves if we want to continue with that customer, or someone else on our team can assign it to us. On the customer side, they can help us by using the hashtag #BufferSupport. Using that hashtag has been so helpful for us to get to those tweets the quickest!”

From the community:

  • “Be clear + consistent about what is dealt with via Twitter. Have an escalation plan + accountable person. Sign tweets :)” @_KirstenT
  • “Someone should be designated to specific areas of support – technical, refunds, etc. Streamline it!” @FatherFoodFun
  • “Pre-approved messaging and responses can help ensure #brand consistency, but you also must empower employees to take action.” @MarksteinCo
  • “I really like how the Buffer team signs their name to the posts, so I can at least associate a name.” @globalHMA
  • “Clearly defined brand voice guidelines will keep everyone on the same page. Tone is just as important as content.” @Ideon_Agency

See all the great answers to question 5 here!

Q6: How can you use data to improve your customer support on social media?

From Darcy:

  • Video answer: “Analytics can be your money-maker and your workflow changer, in my opinion. We use analytics to gauge response times – we have a quarterly goal, and if we’re not hitting the mark, we’ll change something up. We also have a daily tweet goal per person – again, if that is not matching the flow of tweets coming in, we’ll change something up. But the best way for us to gauge if we’re doing a good job is our customers! What are they saying? Any listening tool you use should have an analytics tool, so definitely take advantage of it!”

From the community:

  • “Data illuminates cust expectations–what channels/devices they use; when/how they expect reply–leading to stronger strategy.” @chgormley86
  • “For customer support on social media, use data to find out the times with the most traffic and staff accordingly.” @johannesquiles
  • “Datamine keywords and analyze the top ones. Those will help you understand common issues.” @ISODevelopers
  • “Track the issues your customers are having. If the same ones keep coming up, that’s a sign to make a change.” @ExpWriters
  • “Figure out frequent issues and create relevant helpful evergreen material. Use data preemptively!” @Geomk

See all the great answers to question 6 here!

Q7: What are some ways to go the extra mile for your customers on Twitter?

From Darcy:

  • Video answer: “We can be so creative with this! One way is to film a little video where you are saying hi to them, or answering their question, and that’s such a fun way to do it. You can also interact with them via your company handle on tweets on their feed that aren’t related to you – that would be a really good way of showing them that you care about them. And then lastly I would say to interact with them with your personal handle – become friends with them on your personal handle, if what they have in your feed also interests you!”

From the community:

  • “Follow up w/ a personal DM couple days after to thank them for their time & check they do not have add’l questions.” @JJCordz
  • “Personalization and appreciation. Sending handwritten notes, and swag are also nice touches.” @JSimmsSocial
  • “If it’s an improvement idea / feature request, give them a shout out on release day so they know their ideas matter.” @KeenerStrategy
  • “Monitor beyond mentions; respond to tweets talking *about* your brand. Your unexpected reply could make someone’s day!” @modsquad
  • “I <3 when a brand anticipates next steps and asks if I’d like them to do it for me. Yes, please!” @CDRecruits

See all the great answers to question 7 here!

Thank you so much to Darcy for sharing all of her awesome insights, and to everyone who participated in this chat!

Catch #bufferchat each Wednesday at 9 am PST, 12 pm EST, 5 pm BST (GMT+1)  OR at 4 pm AEST (Sydney time, UTC+10). Join our Slack community with over 2,000 members to continue these awesome conversations all week long!

Do you have any comments or answers to these questions? Leave your thoughts in the comments! We’d love to hear from you!

Image sources: UnSplash

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