Digital Customer Care: 10 Ways to Fix Not-Very-Good Tweets to Customers

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Digital Customer Care: 10 Ways to Fix Not-Very-Good Tweets to Customers

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Digital Customer Care: 10 Ways to Fix Not-Very-Good Tweets to Customers

Small changes can strengthen the connection with your customers.

Many companies are “pretty much kind of OK-ish” at responding to customers’ questions or complaints in social media. They do respond to customers’ social posts, and they reply pretty quickly. Some companies are doing darn well at digital customer care. A few are good. A handful are excellent.

But most companies can do better—a LOT better. Their replies aren’t complete, helpful or friendly enough. Yes, they do answer customers, but their replies are the Twitter version of answering the 1-800 number by saying, “Um, yeah. Hi. What do you want?”

Twitter has been around since 2006, which means most brands have more than a decade of experience providing customer service in this channel. It’s time for companies to recognize the 10 common customer service mistakes I’ve listed in this article and commit to writing better—much better—responses.

Now, before we get started, here’s a great big disclaimer. As you’ll soon see, I’ve illustrated my suggestions by using tweets from @Safeway. While it’s true that these tweets fit into the “not very good” category, @Safeway often writes very good tweets to customers. I have cherry-picked tweets that needed work, but there were many tweets in @Safeway’s feed that didn’t need any work and were, in fact, great models of how to respond. So, I’m not “picking on” @Safeway; I am using a familiar, strong brand and showing how small changes could make their social customer care responses much better.

1. Read incoming tweets carefully.

The Tweet

The Fix

Careful reading is the source of all great customer service writing. If @ Safeway had read the incoming tweet from Adam carefully, they never would have asked him to provide the store location and other details, which he’s already provided! Adam has invested effort in crafting a detailed, even-handed tweet. @Safeway should respond in kind by investing effort in reading.

Here’s what @Safeway could have written:

Hi Adam, We expect all our employees to be courteous, so we’re upset to learn about the rudeness you observed in our Newark, CA store! Please DM us with your registered email address and phone number, so we can follow up with you and the Store Manager. Thank you! - Susan

2. Reduce customer effort.

The Tweet

The Fix

@Safeway should have provided the link to the page where Lynn can check vaccination availability online. It’s just wrong to mention a page at your company’s site without linking to it. And surely @Safeway wants to prevent another tweet from Lynn asking for the link, right?

Here’s what @Safeway could have written:

Hi Lynn, Appointments for the COVID-19 vaccine in our store fill up quickly. You can schedule your appointment or check availability online at http://bit.ly/123???? or sign up for updates at http://bit.ly/????123. Thank you! - Susan

3. Explain where the hyperlink goes or what it enables the customer to do.

The Tweet

The Fix

Companies often include hyperlinks in tweet responses because they would like customers to self-serve, or they would like to prevent follow-up contacts on the same question. But all @Safeway has done in this tweet is to indicate that there’s some kind of information about sustainability (?) at a “website.” In fact, the link in this tweet goes to a useful page at the (Safeway parent company) Albertsons website. This page does answer the customer’s question. But it’s not enough for @Safeway to just drop the link into the tweet. They should have explained where the link goes, mentioned the page by name, or mentioned what clicking the link will enable the customer to do.

Here’s what @Safeway could have written:

Hi. Thanks for asking about how we’re reducing our plastic use. Please see our “Plastics and Packaging Pledge” page at http://ms.spr.ly/6011paTUL where we’ve detailed our plan to ensure that 100% of packaging will be recyclable, reusable or industrially compostable by 2025. - Susan

4. Mention why you want the customer to DM you.

The Tweet

The Fix

When you ask a customer to DM you, you’re asking them to take a second action to get help. While most customers are willing to do it, you should still explain or imply why you want the conversation to switch from the public channel to the private one or what you’re going to do with the information the customer shares privately.

Here’s what @Safeway could have written:

Hello, Aime - we are very sorry to hear about your order! Can you please DM us your order number, email and details of the issues you had, so we can research what happened and follow up with you? Thanks - Susan

5. Show genuine empathy.

The Tweet

The Fix

Um, no. When the customer tweets about an aggravating experience, the social customer care agent must respond with sincere empathy, an apology or both. Showing empathy is a customer service obligation.

Here’s what @Safeway could have written:

Oh, no! You’re right. We should’ve provided you with the correct order of 4 items. Can you please DM us to let us know whether this was a delivery & to give us your phone number & email used for online shopping? We’ll research what happened & follow up with you. Thanks - Susan

6. Apologize sincerely, not robotically.

The Tweet

The Fix

Nope. “We apologize for your experience” is not a sincere apology. After all, @Safeway could use that wording for every problem from long lines in the store to moldy cheese to a rude employee, so the wording’s no good at conveying that the company’s truly sorry for this individual customer’s experience. Every company that responds to customers in social media can—and should—be better at apologizing than this. It’s not the wording for a believable “I’m sorry.”

Here’s what @Safeway could have written:

Hi, Drake. We are very sorry that your order was delayed and then lost. You should have received your full order on time, as promised. Please DM us to confirm your order number and email. We’ll reply with info about your refund. We want to make this right! Thank you - Susan

7. Tell the customer what will happen next and when.

The Tweet

The Fix

The best way to respond to Katie’s question would be to tell her when the Virginia stores will begin allowing employees to fill customers’ reusable shopping bags. But if @Safeway can’t answer that question yet, they should still tell Katie what will happen after they receive her DM and share her question with the “proper personnel.” When you don’t tell customers what will happen next and (approximately) when it will happen, they have no idea what they’re waiting for and how long they should wait. So when they contact you again before you’ve had a chance to answer, well, that’s on you. They didn’t know how long to wait.

Here’s what @Safeway could have written:

Hi Katie, We’re not yet sure when we’ll have our baggers filling reusable bags, so we’ve asked our In-Store Team to review your question & get back to you. Please DM us the VA store you visit most frequently. Our In-Store Team will reply within 1 business day. Thanks! – Susan

8. Show a sense of humor.

The Tweet

The Fix

Dang, this tweet response from @Safeway is dry! “Unfortunately this is not available, however, we’ve shared your request with our Teams for review…” just isn’t a warm and fuzzy thing to write to a customer who’s jokingly asking Safeway whether he can buy their sugar-free coffee enhancer in Sweden. He’s kidding, so the least Safeway can do is respond in a similarly lighthearted tone.

Yes, humor is tricky. It can backfire. But when you are responding to a no-risk, unemotional tweet from a customer who has something good to say about one of your products, take the opportunity to show a little life!

Here’s what @Safeway could have written:

Hi Marc, We miss you, too! 😀 So sorry, but we can’t ship our SELECT Sugar Free Coffee Enhancers to you overseas. I Googled “Swedish coffee” & discovered they sometimes put raw egg in the grounds. Whoa! Sounds… unusual? Give “egg coffee” a try & let us know how it is! - Susan

9. Sign your tweets.

The Tweet

The Fix

If you’re not signing your tweets, why not? It’s a tiny, simple action that conveys “a real person wrote this.” Sign with your first name plus last initial, your first name only, or your first and last initials. And if character count is getting tight, you can use the shortest form (initials only).

Here’s what @Safeway could have written:

Hello, Joshua - Yes we do have fire logs in the Petworth store—in many sizes and prices. Thanks for shopping at Safeway, and enjoy your roaring fire! 😊 - Susan

10. Add a greeting and a closing.

The Tweet

The Fix

Social customer care is more conversational than email. A greeting and closing are hallmarks of conversation, so include them in your tweets. It doesn’t matter very much whether you greet with “Hi, Hello, Hey” or close with “Thanks, Thank you, Regards…” Just choose the words that match your brand’s voice and tone the best.

Here’s what @Safeway could have written:

Hi, Sofia - You can make an appointment on our mobile app (under More Menu) or visit our website and click “Pharmacy.” If you don’t have access to our mobile app or website, you can also call your local Safeway pharmacy to make an appointment. Thanks for contacting us. - Susan

WRITING BETTER TWEETS BRINGS SWEET Rewards

I hope you’ll agree that writing much better tweets to customers isn’t going to be a ton more work. Yes, it’s a little more work—I’ll give you that—but the rewards are sweet indeed. Your customers will be less likely to tweet you the same question twice, and the general tone of your Twitter feed will be one of sincerity and connection. And no one wants to be in the business of providing “pretty much kind of OK-ish” customer care, right?

Leslie O’Flahavan

Leslie O’Flahavan

E-WRITE's Leslie O'Flahavan helps people write well to customers. She delivers customized training for frontline agents, social media managers, and contact center leaders. She is a problem-solver for all written channels: email, chat, text and social. Leslie is a LinkedIn Learning author of five customer service writing courses. Connect with Leslie on LinkedIn or follow her on Twitter.

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