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eCommerce Marketing

How to Cultivate Better Customer Relationships Using Twitter

How to Cultivate Better Customer Relationships Using Twitter

by John Larkin

John runs the blog here at eCommerceLift and is a verified Shopify Expert. Interested in an initial growth consultation? Click here

8 years ago

How to Cultivate Better Customer Relationships Using Twitter

Currently there’s a lot of buzz around social customer relationship management (CRM). That is how a company uses social media to engage with and manage customer relationships. Social media platforms and technologies like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are transforming how companies market their products and engage with their customers. One of the main benefits of social media is that companies now have a public platform in which they can openly communicate & engage with their customers in real-time. 
As surveys have shown, customers who interact with companies on social media are likely to buy up to 40 percent more products and services from those companies.  Just as important, consumers on social media are turning away from traditional one-way communication from corporate brands, and simply demand more. For instance, 17 percent of consumers last year turned to social media for customer service instead of calling the company. A company willing to handle customer service issues on an open social media forum shows transparency and perhaps instils a certain amount of confidence in their customers. 

Since the launch of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter a lot of companies have used them primarily as another promotional tool posting a daily barrage of news, announcements, and deals — all in the name of engaging their customers. But until recently, few have really figured out how to harness the instant, 140-character power of Twitter to engage in real-time interactions in new ways that build long-lasting customer relationships. 

17% of consumers last year turned to social media for customer service instead of calling the company.

How to manage your customer relationships using Twitter

Starting a meaningful Twitter conversation with your customers doesn’t require fancy technology, tools, or cost — just some tactical know-how and a true desire to connect. Below are a few simple ways to take your Twitter engagement strategy to the next level.

1. Keep up to date with your followers

Companies that successfully engage with customers over Twitter start by empowering their followers. They make it their business to follow their followers and retweet their posts. They signal that they are paying attention by commenting on their followers’ own musings and updates. Twitter is great tool for speaking to someone from the audience directly and also as a means of receiving feedback about a specific product or service. 

Asos, the number one most visited fashion retailer in the world is a fine example of this ongoing customer engagement. It is a policy of theirs to speak directly to every customer who follows or ‘Like’s’ them on their social channels. The company has dedicated its Twitter team to customer service, using the social media platform to placate & reassure aggrieved customers. Indeed, 45% of all ASOS tweets are replies to other individuals on Twitter, addressing complaints & issues. What’s more, the ASOS social media team seem to have grasped the ’24-7′ element of the social network, tweeting beyond 5pm during the week and frequently dealing with customer feedback during Saturday and Sunday. Indeed, an average of 350 tweets are sent out by the ASOS account over weekend periods.

2. Respond promptly to customer complaints 

It’s worth noting that if a company sets up a social media profile they have to be prepared to manage customer service issues in an open forum otherwise don’t set one up! 

While a company can’t immediately clear its name from a Twitter rant, it can go a long way toward minimising the fallout by responding to the customer in real-time. 

Social media can be of particular value to online retailers who want an effective way of managing their customer services. Amazon is one of the well know online retailers who champions the use of social media to manage their customers relations. They constantly work to address customer queries in a prompt manner on Twitter and if necessary redirecting the conversation (and resolving the issue) offline via email or other means. 

A great example of prompt customer response is the recent hacking scandal involving the social media scheduler Buffer. The CEO of the company responded within an hour of complaints from customers that they we’re experiencing spam posts on their Twitter accounts. 

He sent an email directly to all registered Buffer customers not only confirming & explaining the problem but also accepting full responsibility & apologising profusely for the security breach. They communicated not just what they knew but gave customers a detailed account of their next steps and guidance on what users could do to protect our accounts in the meantime. They also continued posting live updates and answering everyone’s questions while resolving the problem. 

Every person who tweeted something (and there were thousands!) got a personal reply within minutes. Their whole team was on standby.

Throughout the crisis Buffer was transparent, responsive & reassuring. To such an extent that during the days of the breach Buffer saw ‘almost record number of sign-ups’ which their CEO Joel Gascoigne surmises was due to the positive press they received on how they handled the crisis. 

3. Use humour & interesting topics to engage & excite your audience

There is no point churning out an endless barrage of PR posts which will only send your followers off to sleep. 

Instead aim to delight and intrigue your followers with engaging & thought provoking posts that they want to share with their friends. Brands which do this well are Clorox & Old Spice who work consistently at both informing and entertaining customers on Twitter — which, when it comes to building community around banal products such as bleach, is easier said than done. Clorox, for instance, held a Twitter conversation about healthy eating that brought in scores of comments. Dell combines it all – engagement, promotions, photo sharing and retweets (shows that they’re paying attention). They are able to keep followers engaged and informed of what Dell is up to without overwhelming. Dell also has multiple Twitter accounts with one dedicated solely to customer service issues which allows them to effectively manage all areas of the business on Twitter. 
Another caveat emptor for a company or online retailer new to social media is everyone’s learning, if you don’t try stuff out – you won’t know whether it’s going to take off or be a complete flop. It is however vital that companies recognise the ongoing implications of setting up a social media profile. If you start out on social you have to be prepared to work and really dedicate the time to it. What are your experiences of using social media to manage your customer relations?


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