When to Take Twitter Conversations Private with DMs

Phil Garbrecht

How does your business resolve customer service issues on Twitter?

According to research from our Digital Customer Care Playbook, approximately 67% of consumers now flock to social media networks such as Twitter to resolve customer service issues. Customers can effortlessly reach out to a brand for help through a public tweet, but not all issues should be handled in the reply thread.

Understanding how to distinguish when it’s best to respond to a customer comment or tweet publicly vs. privately, plus which ones to prioritize first, ensures your support team is aligned and promotes a unified brand. Learn when it’s best to take Twitter conversations private through direct messages so your brand can deliver exceptional customer care.

Signals that indicate a Twitter conversation should be moved to private

According to Internet Live Stats, approximately 6,000 tweets are posted by users across the world every second. Most brands don’t have the capability to respond to the seemingly never-ending amount of mentions they receive in a day, which is why it’s essential for companies to identify and prioritize issues.

Public praise from your audience is welcomed, but from a customer service standpoint it’s not a priority that warrants an immediate response. Customer service questions, complaints, and requests should always take priority over responding to non-issues such as positive feedback.

While some issues, such as quick questions, can be handled in the reply thread of Twitter conversations, the following are signals that you should move the discussion to a direct message:

The issue involves sensitive information

Some issues may require the Twitter user to provide personal information that shouldn’t be shared in a public tweet, such as their address, order number, or other contact information. In cases where it’s obvious this type of sensitive information will be required at some point, we recommend moving the conversation to a direct message as early as possible.

Don’t wait for a customer to inadvertently disclose their personal information in a public space — politely respond to their post with something along the lines of:

“Hey ______, we saw your post and sent you a direct message so we can gather additional information to assist you with this issue.”

The issue is complex

Complex issues may require longer conversations where it doesn’t make sense to discuss the matter in a Twitter reply thread. Although Twitter posts can now be up to 280 characters in length, direct messages can be up to 10,000 characters, which gives you greater flexibility to go into detail.

Furthermore, some issues may take days or weeks to resolve so moving the conversation to the direct messages will prevent it from gaining widespread public attention which can damage your brand’s reputation.

Don’t drag out the issue resolution process through a series of 280-word posts — respond promptly with something along the lines of:

“Hey ______, we saw your post and sent you a direct message so we can further discuss this issue.”

The issue involves an upset customer

A Forrester Consulting report called Getting To Know Your Customers noted that approximately two-thirds of customers who have a bad experience with a brand will switch to a different brand and share their negative encounter with others. If you have an upset customer posting about their poor experience on Twitter, you have an urgent issue that needs to be moved to the direct messages section immediately.

Don’t ignore this as as it can cause the issue to escalate — instead immediately respond with something along the lines of:

Hey ______, we saw your post and are sorry this issue occurred. We’ve sent you a direct message so we can resolve the issue promptly.

Create customers for life with exceptional social media support

Customers are tweeting about brands at an unparalleled rate, so it’s essential for your business to recognize the signals that indicate when it’s time to take a Twitter conversation to the direct messages section.

This is just one of many social media customer care best practices. For more tips and advice to create customers for life, check out our Digital Customer Care Playbook.

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