11 steps to using twitter to improve customer service, generate leads, and acquire more clients.
A friend of mine, who works for a really excellent retail consumer goods company (I’m being deliberately vague), recently asked me to give him some guidance on how his company, NiftyCo. (not their real name), could use blogging or some other social media in marketing. One of the absolute best ways to market your product or service is to keep existing customer’s happy. Guy Kawasaski talks about creating evangelists for your company: clients who are so passionate for your company that they spread the good word about your company. I’ve also heard that 90% of sales for the typical retailer come from previous customers. So if you can please existing clients, you’ve theoretically secured 90% of your current sales. Conversely, piss them off and you’re cutting of 90% of your revenue. Pleasing and pissing off are functions of customer service, and anything that touches such a large source of future revenues makes it marketing. I think one of the most powerful social media tools you can use for customer service, and increasing sales, is through using Twitter.
Twitter, if you’re not familiar, is a micro-blogging service. Twitter asks people to answer, in 140 words or less, the question “What are you doing?” People can follow other people’s Twitter logs (individual entries are called “tweets” – easily the most sickeningly sweet new word in the lexicon). Many celebrities are on Twitter; some actually personally participating, not just through their P.R. person (most famously, Shaquille O’Neal tweeted that he was eating at a local restaurant, and a pair of fans, realizing it was the joint around the corner, ran over and got a picture with him).
So here’s how to use Twitter to improve customer service and drive sales. I am assuming you can navigate a webpage, sign up for online accounts, play around with websites a smidge, so I’m not going literally step by step, but rather general steps.
Step 1: Register for an account at Twitter. You should have an account that’s just reserved for the company’s use. It’ll make your life a bit easier. Note: You can have your user name be almost anything – but I’d stay away from just using the company’s name – the twitter community tolerates oddball screen names – but does demand a higher degree of authenticity. A good compromise is your name at the company’s name “Oscar at Nifty Co.”
Step 2: Modify your Twitter profile. Include a link to your company’s website, and a brief, authentic bio. An example “I’m Oscar, I work in the marketing department at NiftyCo. I work in the Detroit office. I’ve been with NiftyCo. since it started and love our products, particularly our ottomans.”
Step 3: Start tweeting. Really, about nearly anything. Keep it positive, upbeat, let it reflect the tone of your company (which should be pretty damned cool if they’re letting you tweet as part of your job). New marketing campaign in the works? Talk about it. Working late nights trying to name the new line of chairs, talk about it. Again, authenticity is key. Don’t go hog wild (once a day is fine), don’t be controversial. Do this and hopefully you get some followers – although followers aren’t necessarily the important part – yet. If you do get followers, jump right to the next step.
Step 4: Reward your followers. Every now and then let them know about something before the general public does. Give them early access to a sale. Share a code with them for free shipping. You’re trying to make them feel ‘in the know’ and make it worth their while to pay attention to your tweets.
Step 5: Do a small bit of direct marketing. The more you can make this message seem simply like one friend talking to another, and sharing an interesting tidbit, the more authentic the tweet will be, and the less spammy it will see. Bad example: “Save this weekend on t-shirts at LiveWear.” Much better example: “We’re running a cool special this weekend, you can get 2 for 1 on lady’s tees. My sister loves these.” It’s personal, authentic, and still drives transactions. Including a hyperlink at the end of the tweet is perfectly legitimate.
Step 6: Start searching for name droppers. Go to either Tweetbeep.com or Twilert.com. These services let you enter different keywords, and if anyone’s tweet contains that keyword, you get notified by email. Definitely use the company’s name for a keyword. Use common abbreviations or misspellings of your company’s name. When you get an email from one of these services, you can read the tweet in question and see what’s being said about your company. Is it a good thing. Note it. Definitely reply to it. Maybe toss them a cookie – “Hey glad you loved our sweaters. I work for NiftyCo., and we can give out coupons. if you want another sweater enter ‘freebie’ and get free shipping.” Again, rhe more you can make this message seem simply like one friend talking to another, and sharing an interesting tidbit, the more authentic the tweet will be, and the less spammy it will see.
Step 7: Use other smart keywords. The name of the competition is a good one (again with abbreviations and misspellings.) If someone is patronizing a competitor, you might be able to get their business. Look also for keywords that would describe the context in which someone would be thinking about your product. Do you sell shoes? Then a keyword should be “shoes” or “need” and “shoes. ” If you sell cars, then anytime someone is tweeting about needing a new car, you need to send them a message and get that business. Send them a treat – “Hey I just saw you’re selling your car, if you decide to buy a new one let me know, I can give discounts to friends outside the company.” Do all this in a way that’s trackable (obviously)
Step 8: Every second counts. Try to respond and take action as soon as possible (24 hours or less if at all possible). People tend to use Twitter in fits and starts (at least that’s my m.o.) So if you don’t get to them shortly after they post, they may not be aware of your response.
Step 9: When responding, don’t use Direct Messages, use Replies. A direct message is private, a reply is public. You’re using Twitter for PUBLIC relations, so be public in your actions. Anyone following you will see you taking care of some customer, and that just builds the multiplier effect of good customer service. (How do you reply? Either by using the ‘at’ symbol (@) with the person’s screen name (so for me, that’d be @DanIzzo) or, when you hover over the tweet in question, a little arrow will appear on the right. Hit that, and you’re good to go.
Step 10: Make your life easier, use an email notification service. Twitter doesn’t exactly pound you over the head with a notification when someone replies to you. As a matter of fact, it seems like you get no notice at all if someone replies to one of your tweets, or uses the @ to send you a public message. Enter TwitApps. Go there, follow their instructions, and soon you’ll get an email every time someone replies to you or uses the @ function. It’s a nice way of being very responsive on Twitter without having to compulsively check it.
Step 11: Make your life complicated then easier, use a desktop client. If you really want to take your twittering to the next level, use something like Twhirl or Tweetdeck. These create an application on your computer for monitoring Twitter. At first, they may be a bit complicated to use, but both do a nice job of bringing Twitter’s functionality into an ultimately more direct interface. For example with Tweetdeck, you get a three column view – Tweets, Replies, and Direct Messages. This is pretty effective. With Twhirl, you can actually monitor multiple Twitter accounts. This is useful if you need to watch the company account, as well as your own, or even multiple accounts for a single enterprise. They take some getting used to, but if you are going to use Twitter a lot, they can be helpful. Start with just Twitter on the web – once you’re comfortable there, then move on to the world of Tweetdeck and Twhirl.
So there you have it, a bit of a basic strategy for using Twitter for customer service. Twitter’s extremely hot right now, and if it stays so, the steps I’ve outlined should help you use Twitter effectively for your company. If Twitter turns out to be a passing fad – well, there’s always the next big thing.
Technorati Tags: customer service, the customer is king, twitter