Twitter biird

How to discourage customers from tweeting public complaints


Public complaints on Twitter can be painful for brands, and can cause them damage. How can they be avoided while still placating the disgruntled customer?

13th Jul 2018

There are probably two key desires at the core of every company's Twitter strategy:

  1. Get people to love us so they buy more
  2. Avoid public complaints

Unfortunately, many companies inadvertently nudge customers to complain via Twitter. Case in point is a recent experience I had with a consumer products company.

It had been three days since I had emailed the company and it still had not responded. I wanted to send them a direct message (DM) via Twitter to gently nudge the company and request a response. For the uninitiated, a DM is private, meaning the world can't see it.

But wait! The company hadn't configured its Twitter account to accept DMs (i.e. private messages). So I couldn't message the company privately. I opted to send a public tweet instead.

Here's how companies can prevent this.

Why private messaging is important

The key difference between a public tweet and a private DM is who can read it.

Anyone can read a public tweet. A private DM, however, is similar to email, chat, and other written customer service channels. The conversation remains private.

The key is starting the conversation in private.

The social customer care platform Conversocial recently released some interesting data based on two years of tweets from its enterprise clients.

Toister 1

Nearly all conversations that start in private (i.e. via DM) remain there. So the key is making it easy for customers to send you a DM.

Make it easy to DM your business

Let's go back to the consumer products company. Twitter aside, the first and most obvious move is to respond to customer emails! My own research has uncovered two things:

  • Email response time standards should be 1 hour
  • Most Twitter complaints are escalations

So a fast and effective email response will likely prevent an escalation to Twitter. When you don't handle your business in other channels, customers will complain in public.

OK, so how can the company make it easier for me to DM them?

Right now, the company's Twitter settings are set up so only customers the company follows can send them a DM. One simple change to the privacy and safety settings on the company's Twitter account can fix that:

Direct message

This setting allows anyone to DM the company, making it far easier for customers to start a conversation in private. Notice the difference between the @Comcast and @ComcastCares Twitter profiles. You'll need @Comcast to follow you if you want to send the company a DM, but you can send @ComcastCares a DM immediately.

Comcast customer service

Take action!

The best thing you can do is make it easy for your customers to contact your company, and make it easy for your agents to respond properly.

Twitter offers a slew of more advanced features for businesses. These include:

You can learn the basics of serving customers via Twitter from my training video, Serving Customers via Social Media.

This post originally featured on Toister Performance Solutions

Replies (1)

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Aki Kalliatakis Photo
By aki.kalliatakis1
16th Jul 2018 15:37

Couldn't agree with you more, Jeff.

It's just dumb to turn what should have been a private conversation, easily managed, into a very public debate. It's horrific how normal conversations are ignored, and I know of cases where it's done on purpose: "Let's just wait for them to contact us on Twitter, and then we'll respond."

Truth be told, as someone from an older generation, I find most of the modern communication media, from call centres to emails to all the social media, rather painful. Nevertheless, when I don't get a response or satisfaction to my small issues, I am obscenely enthusiastic about getting onto very public platforms.

Great article and thought provoker!

Thanks (1)