July 18, 2013, 11:06 AM

Nearly one-third of top brands have a dedicated Twitter handle for customer service

Nike responds to more customer inquiries there than do other brands.

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As of June 1, 32% of top-performing brands had a Twitter handle dedicated to customer service, up from 30% in March 2012, according to a recent study by social media analytics company Simply Measured Inc. Such an account on Twitter allows brands to separate customer service communications on the microblogging network from tweets related to marketing or news updates—many brands maintain multiple Twitter handles that they use for different purposes.

The study analyzed how the top 100 brands as ranked by brand management agency Interbrand use Twitter for customer service. Interbrand ranks brands based on a combination of their financial performance, influence and consumer loyalty, it says.

A small group of those brands does most of the tweeting—19 of them tweet 10 or more times daily, 13 send 50 or more tweets daily and six tweet 100 or more times daily, Simply Measured reports. The top 10 brands on Twitter by the number of mentions they received on average had 200 mentions per day and sent 136 tweets per day, it says. Collectively, that group accounted for 80% of all customer support mentions in the study.

Nike Inc. responded to 73% of the customer service inquiries on Twitter in the three months prior to June 1, the highest response rate, among the 100 brands studied. Nike’s average response time on Twitter was roughly three hours. Microsoft Corp. meanwhile, was the speediest to reply to customers on the social network, with an average response time under one hour, Simply Measured says.

The average response rate for all brands in the study increased quarter-over-quarter from 42% to 45% and the average response time dropped from 5.1 hours to 4.6 hours. Slower response times overnight, when brands are less staffed, skew these numbers slightly. The average response time between noon and 6 p.m. Pacific Time is just over three hours, Simply Measured says. Nearly 70% of customers send tweets that include brands’ customer service Twitter handles, implying they have a service-related comment, between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. Pacific.

The study also reports the percentage of brands that use Twitter to help customers in the following ways:

  • 20% direct them to online resources;
  • 12% ask them for more information;
  • 9% direct customers to send an e-mail;
  • 6% ask customers to send a private, direct message on Twitter; and
  • 5% direct customers to make a phone call.
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