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Top Brands Using Twitter for Customer Support

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Among the brands listed on the Interbrand Top 100, more than nine in ten (95%) use Twitter and nearly one in four (23%) use it as a customer service platform (i.e., they have a Twitter handle dedicated to customer service), according to a new report by Simply Measured.

For the study, Simply Measured tracked three months of Twitter messages exchanged via the 23 customer support accounts (from Sept. 1 to Nov. 30, 2012).

Among the Top 100 brands, seven (7%) responded to more than 50 support-related tweets each day during the three-month period, and three brands (3%) handled more than 100 tweets a day:

Meanwhile, customers have fairly high expectations for receiving support via Twitter.


Simply Measured cites a separate study conducted by The Social Habit that found two-thirds (67%) of surveyed Twiter users expect a response from a brand within 24 hours. Some 42% of those consumers expect a reply within an hour, and 32% expect a reply within 30 minutes.

Moreover, 57% of surveyed Twitter users expect that same level of responsiveness, regardless of what time of day it is.

However, few brands listed on the Interbrand 100 are meeting such expectations.

On average, two-thirds (67%) of brands respond in less than 24 hours (via @reply); however, no brand has an average response time of less than 30 minutes, and only 9% respond within an hour.

Below, additional findings from Simply Measured.

Tweet Levels vs. Brand Response Times

The chart below ranks the top 10 brands with a customer service handle by the number of incoming support-related tweets over the three-month. Among the brands, 90% are responding (via @replies) within 24 hours, on average.

@BlackBerryHelp received the most (58,600) support-related mentions tweets during the study period. @NikeSupport and @AskAmex (American Express) followed with 42,000 and 37,900, respectively.

UPS and American Express topped the list for response times: On average, UPS reached out in 1.1 hours, while American Express responded in 1.8 hours.

Hewlett Packard (@HPSupport) ranked in the top 10 for engagement (5,600 support-related mentions), but recorded a long response time: on average 30.2 hours.

Interestingly, BlackBerry's approach has been to remove service-related conversations from public view as soon as possible, first following the customer and then responding via DM (direct message). The @BlackBerryHelp account has over 1 million followers.

In addition to handling customer service issues via the account, the company engages its audience with "how-to" content and various promotional materials, SimplyMeasured noted.

Tweet Response Levels

Clearly, some brands struggle to keep up with service-related traffic. Others (e.g., BlackBerry) convert inbound tweets to DMs, while other brands simply don't respond to every tweet.

Even so, @NikeSupport led the pack in responding to service-related tweets, at 74%. That translates to more than 24,900 tweets via their customer service handle over the three-month study period.

Overall, the top third of brands responded to 61% of service-related tweets, whereas the bottom third responded to roughly 17%.

The following chart shows the full picture of the 23 brands with customer service handles on Twitter:

About the data: Findings are based on the Twitter activity of 23 customer support accounts of the Interbrand 100 from Sept. 1 to Nov. 30, 2012.


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Lenna Garibian is a MarketingProfs research writer and a marketing consultant in the tech industry, where she develops engaging content that builds thought leadership and revenue opportunities for clients. She's held marketing and research positions at eRPortal Software, GAP Inc., Stanford University, and the IMF. Reach Lenna via Twitter @LennaAnahid and LinkedIn.

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  • by Rebecca Pelke Mon Dec 10, 2012 via web

    Great statistics about customer service on Twitter! More and more customers are expressing their thoughts, feelings, and concerns through social media sites. This is a great opportunity for companies to communicate and respond to their customers this way. Even making a tweet personalized will make a customer feel special and show them you care. For more information on how to improve customer service, visit us at http://www.impactlearning.com/solutions/training-programs/customer-service/

  • by DonMedia Tue Dec 11, 2012 via web

    I’d like to see some data as to how effective they are at actually *resolving* customer issues via Twitter. In my own experience, it’s been a mixed bag. Some are good while others (my cable/ISP provider) are really good at apologizing and really poor at actually fixing.

  • by Stanley Donovan Sat Dec 15, 2012 via web

    Thanks for the great article. Wondering how the brands feels about having to support customers via Twitter. Is it a nuisance? Also, wondering if customers are likely to use Twitter tweets persistently, once they are able to DM to they continue to use the DMs and no longer tweet.

  • by Brian Stokoe Wed Dec 19, 2012 via web

    I saw this article last week when it was published, and it has continued to bug me a bit. The stats here seem to be a bit disconnected from anything that has concrete validation or best practice, including the fact that the focus is on brands that specifically dedicate an account to "customer support". I have two points about this that come to mind...

    1) It seems like a cheap research tactic to say that 23% of companies use social media as a service platform, when many of the companies (including my fortune 100 brand) are managing customer issues via the primary brand accounts, not via a dedicated "support" account.

    2) As a consumer, I avoid these "Support" accounts, and prefer to post questions or comments on the primary brand account. In my opinion, these accounts are a tactic by companies to manage and push their negative conversations into a "safe place" that is not as visible, but that is not how the web works. It is not a good practice to hide your negative issues, it is better to deal with the issues in broad public to find and resolve root causes that lead to issues.

    Again, this is strictly my opinion, but I have a higher respect for brands that conduct their business in a transparent manner. It has been my experience that trying to hide things that are less than perfect, is not a good recipe for long-term success.

    Thanks Lenna and MarketingProfs for the thought provoking article!

    - Brian S.

  • by John MacDaniel Thu Jan 3, 2013 via web

    Love the fact that I am starting to see more and more posts specific to customer service and social media. There is great opportunity for companies to reduce cost (phone contact vs. social contact) and improve the experience of a consumer by interacting and providing service to them on-line. However as you point out many brands simply aren’t taking advantage of this opportunity. Packaging rarely encourages customers to ask questions on-line, and in some cases, marketers are still reluctant to engage their consumer services departments for assistance. The opportunity also extends beyond those customers that are directing their tweets to a brand’s account. In addition, organizations should be monitoring brand mentions beyond their account and identifying additional engagement opportunities where customer have posted a question, but were unaware to direct it to a specific brand account. Hopefully 2013 will be a year where brands catch up to their customers and provide an improved on-line customer experience.

  • by Holly Anderson Mon Jun 3, 2013 via web

    Hi Lenna,
    Thank you so much for this great article! At EMC, we have a new Twitter account that is purely dedicated to customer service @emcsupport, https://twitter.com/EMCsupport. The findings you’ve shared here are inspiring and encouraging for our team as we currently have a 100% response rate -- in that we reply to every customer query we receive on @emcsupport. We have a global social support response team on-call Monday-Friday 24/5, and if we receive something over the weekend we’re sure to respond to it by Monday. Our Followers are growing and so are our incoming support-related tweets, though we haven’t quite hit numbers comparable to @blackberryhelp (yet!). We will continue to strive to provide social support for our customers and are excited to be in the company of such powerful brands embarking on this new frontier in customer service.

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