The immediate nature of Twitter means that it is both a blessing and a curse for brands, as it gives them an excellent opportunity for having conversations with users but also puts pressure on them to respond quickly to customer complaints.

To give themselves some breathing space and ensure that marketing messages don’t get drowned out by consumer queries, many brands operate separate Twitter feeds for marketing and customer service.

In a recent series of posts looking at how major brands use social I noted that Tesco and ASOS have dedicated Twitter feeds for customer service, and we’ve also investigated whether Twitter is creating a VIP customer service channel.

And new research from Simply Measured shows that 30 of the Interbrand Top 100 Brands currently operate a dedicated customer service Twitter feed, a number that has increased from 23 since December 2012.

This indicates that more brands believe there is value in allowing marketing and customer service to be master of their own domains.

The presence of a dedicated customer service handle allows the flexibility of responding to complaints, questions, and issues without compromising their brand voice.

How many tweets actually get responses?

One of the questions facing brands is how much resource they should invest in Twitter compared to other customer service channels.

The sheer amount of activity on Twitter means that it would be impossible for a brand to achieve a 100% response rate, and in reality not all @mentions warrant a reply.

The average response rate to all customer service mentions was 42%, while Ford achieved the best response rate at 75%. Only five of the dedicated support accounts maintained response rates greater than 60%.

It’s also interesting to note the speed in which brands respond to customers. 

The average response time for a customer support mentions over the last three months was 5.1 hours. On Twitter, 5.1 hours is a very long time; however the fastest average response time was Microsoft at just 42 minutes, which is highly commendable.

How well are the top brands responding?

Each of the top 10 brands by mentions averaged response times less than 24 hours. Microsoft, American Express and UPS were fastest brands to respond to customers, replying to mentions in under two hours.

The top 10 dedicated handles account for a massive 59% of total customer mentions, and demand has actually increased by 20% since December 1. These accounts responded by increasing the number of tweets they sent by 39%.

The increase includes tweets to all followers as well as responses to customer tweets, which indicates that these brands are continuing to invest more resources in social marketing.

The customer service demand for these accounts means that they have a large responsibility to customers, but also an opportunity to exceed expectations and benefit the brand.

David Moth

Published 7 March, 2013 by David Moth

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn

1719 more posts from this author

You might be interested in

Comments (3)

Andy Williams

Andy Williams, Digital Marketing Manager at Koozai

Only 30% have a dedicated customer service Twitter feed.

To me that is really low. There is a lot of catching up that needs to be happening.

Twitter is here, it isn't going away and people are using it to air their issues (with Brands). The sooner Brands truly realise this and act on it the better it is for them.

They can gain some control back on what people are saying about them as well as very publicly showcase their customer service skills to a huge audience.

There is no hiding place anymore and Brands need to interact with their customers.

Only 30%...

over 5 years ago


Oliver Scott

Linking into social networking sites will give the business opportunity to expand. Facebook is one of those. And it boost ROI if there is a possible of many likes but I found out, it's also true from the comment made by David.

over 5 years ago


Jason Hill

I would be interested in hearing whether others think there is any advantage in having a dedicated Twitter handle for customer service, or just a single Twitter handle for the company. I think there are both advantages and disadvantages for trying to herd service questions and complaint to a different account than what is used for the likes of marketing messages.

over 5 years ago

Save or Cancel

Enjoying this article?

Get more just like this, delivered to your inbox.

Keep up to date with the latest analysis, inspiration and learning from the Econsultancy blog with our free Digital Pulse newsletter. You will receive a hand-picked digest of the latest and greatest articles, as well as snippets of new market data, best practice guides and trends research.