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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Top Brands Using Twitter for Customer Support

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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.