Right-Sizing the Twitter Support Strategy for a Business

A small company can get by with one account but large-scale enterprises would be wise to branch out.

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By Shankar Ganesh • Aug 7, 2014

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The days when picking up the phone or answering emails was good enough are long over. Now, customers take to Twitter even before calling the company. They're tweeting about how terrible the music is while they're put on hold and ripping apart the scripts used by agents even as they're working on solving their problem and publicly pushing the company to deliver a quick fix for a bug they spotted minutes ago. And things are only going to get worse if the company is not active on Twitter.

When a company is small, having a single touch point is definitely enough. But as the business grows, this is inefficient. The queries for support intermingle with branding efforts and customers might misinterpret marketing messages as callous indifference to their problems.

So when a company expands into offering multiple products and reaching global markets, an entirely different strategy is needed to respond to customers on Twitter (much as an overall support strategy might be required).

Related: The 7 Musts of Customer Service on Social Media

One Twitter touch point suffices for a startup.

If a business has just started out and has merely a few thousand customers -- no matter how spread out across the world -- a single Twitter account should serve for communicating with customers and marketing the brand.

For example, Sweetgreen, a casual restaurant offering salads and other healthy-food options in the United States uses its official Twitter account to tweet everything from health tips to food pictures and also to engage with customers and answer questions from different locations. It continues to grow its reach by building on its health focus and customer service, which extends to Twitter.

When an organization is small, having a dedicated support agent looking at the lonely notifications feed on Twitter doesn't make sense. Probably only a couple of customer questions will arrive spread throughout the day. Setting up Twitter to send email alerts when tweets crop up will do. The owner will know if there's something bubbling up out there while he or she is working to build a great product.

Buffer staffers make it a point to wow customers when they least expect it by consistently engaging with almost every tweet received and keeping users informed every minute when there's some trouble. The company uses Twitter as a medium to deliver exceptional service as the whole world watches and earns fans along the way for transparency.

Related: Most Companies Don't Get How Customer Service on Social Media Works

For big companies, dedicated support on Twitter is the best bet.

When a company's customers hover over few million and the count is growing crazily month after month, and the client base is young and tech-savvy, the company should be quick to get onto Twitter even before looking up a phone number or support email address. The company probably needs a dedicated support presence on Twitter to deal with the sheer volume of queries.

While the Twitter account @Comcast is primarily aimed at keeping customers updated on latest developments at the cable company, @ComcastCares (the brainchild of Frank Eliason that's now run by Will Osborne) is where thousands of users head to get questions answered when they're facing hiccups or issues with their service. Indeed @ComcastCares lets the whole world know about outages and downtime while the primary marketing account @Comcast is free from all the chatter.

This strategy also works best for companies who ship cross-country. FedEx advertises its dedicated support presence in its primary Twitter bio. This way, customers can find out that they can go to @FedExHelp to receive updates about their packages without having to wait for a response from the shipping company's primary account. Indeed, FedEx has experimented with multiple ways to respond to customer concerns.

A dedicated account is an excellent branding opportunity. The account @ComcastCares, for instance, has been the subject of several case studies about how companies should do the right thing when engaging customers on social media.

Related: 6 Reasons Social Media Is Your Secret Weapon in Customer Service

Global firms customize a support presence for various regions and products.

For companies like Dell and Amazon that have multiple products and customers across the world, a distributed support strategy works pretty well.

It's not uncommon to see Dell employees, from executives to dedicated teams, actively engaging with customers on Twitter, LinkedIn and other networks. While the account @DellCares offers global support, a hundred other regional accounts provide help in local languages (in French, for example) to customers in need of something.

Amazon, on the other hand, has dedicated support handles for products like Kindle, sellers, Amazon Web Services and shoppers. It makes sense for companies that large to have multiple handles to communicate with customers. Considering the volumes of communications handled, this eases up the support workflows for responding to complaints on Twitter, while letting staffer use a primary channel for marketing purposes.

Related: Will Your Company Be a Leader of the Customer-Service Revolution?

Shankar Ganesh

Freshdesk Publicist

Shankar Ganesh leads public relations at Freshdesk, a developer of customer-support software. When he's not writing something, he's probably tweeting about his thoughts about technology or playing with the latest app he found on Product Hunt.

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