Best practices: using Direct Messages for customer service

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Businesses love Twitter as a customer service platform, in part, because it seamlessly combines public and private conversations. Conversations that begin with public Tweets allow brands to show the world how much they love their customers, and Direct Messages let brands and consumers have private discussions to solve problems without ever leaving Twitter. The companies providing the best customer service experiences on Twitter use Direct Messages to resolve issues and engage with their customers in simple and intuitive ways.

We’ve pulled together six best practices from these businesses to show how they’re making the most of Direct Messages to provide incredible service to customers.

1. Turn on the ability to receive Direct Messages from anyone

People don’t have to follow you to send you a Direct Message. You can update your account settings to “Receive Direct Messages from anyone”, making it easier for your customers to start a private conversation with you. And once anyone sends you a Direct Message, you’re free to send them one back too (again, without having to follow them).

To change your settings, update this setting at the bottom of your account’s security and privacy settings.

Best practices: using Direct Messages for customer service2. Use Direct Message prompts in Tweets to get more people to message you

Customer service conversations often start with public Tweets, but then need to transition to a private channel. We’ve made that transition as easy as a single click. A business can now add a DM deep link to their Tweets that will automatically display a “Send a private message” link to send the business a Direct Message, quickly and easily. Businesses who use this feature end up receiving a Direct Message an average of 30% more often compared to those who simply ask users in the Tweet text to send them a Direct Message.

Best practices: using Direct Messages for customer service

3. Take advantage of the 10,000 character limit

Direct Messages allow up to 10K characters per message. This increased character limit makes customer service on Twitter easier for everyone. It removes friction for your customers by letting them describe their issue in more than 140 characters. It also provides room for you to send a complete response in a single message.

Direct Messages also give you space to make your messages as personal as you would like. We’ve found that interactions with businesses on Twitter that are friendly, empathetic and personal are much more satisfactory experiences for customers. Consider using your customer’s real name and having your agents include their full name in a response (instead of common shorthand like initials used in Tweets).

4. Include photos, GIFs, and videos

A picture is worth a thousand words — especially when that picture includes a solution to a question or problem. Sharing a helpful photo, GIF, or video can make it really easy for your customers to understand how to resolve a problem. The best accounts are creating engaging visual content to educate and help their customers in Tweets. Once created, this type of content can be repurposed for Direct Messages too.

5. Use Direct Messages to discuss personal details

As a private channel, Direct Messages are a great way to ask customers for the specific information you need to resolve their issues. Instruct your customers to use Direct Messages when they need to share more personal information that shouldn’t be shared in a public Tweet, like an order number, a store they visited or the name of an employee they interacted with.

6. Manage Tweets and DMs together as single conversations

People love to engage with businesses on Twitter, in part because they can get a response quickly. They have the same expectations for response times with DMs and Tweets, so it’s important to treat both types of messages with equal priority and as part of one single conversation with the customer. The best businesses track each new message, regardless of whether it’s public or private, and optimize response time to that customer. As your business grows and volume increases, it can be beneficial to start using a purpose-built social customer care tool to help manage these conversations at scale. Our Twitter Official Partners program has a selector that can help you find the right customer service solution for you.

We hope these best practices help you create even better service experiences for your customers! Stay tuned as we continue to make Direct Messages even better for businesses.