Twitter Earns Its Customer Service Stripes Even a small Twitter following can be good for small businesses. / Credit: Annette Shaff / Shutterstock.com

Companies are continuing to find value in using Twitter as a primary customer service tool, new research shows.

A study by social media analytics firm Simply Measured found that top brands are increasing their investment in Twitter in order to serve more customers and diversify how they provide support. Specifically, 32 percent of companies in the Interbrand 100 — which ranks businesses based on financial status, how the brand influences purchasing decisions and how strong the brand is — now have dedicated customer-support Twitter handles, with more than half of those handling more than 10 customer-service-related tweets each day.

In total, the top brands sent out nearly 94,000 customer-service tweets in the last three months alone — a 13 percent increase over the previous three months.

The electronics and technology sectors have the highest demand for customer service on Twitter, receiving 67,000 and 46,000 mentions, respectively.

The research also shows that brands continued to improve on how quickly they responded to customer complaints via Twitter. In the last quarter, the average response time was shortened from 5.1 to 4.6 hours, while the average response rate increased from 42 to 45 percent.

"Since we started tracking this data nearly a year ago, we've seen brands significantly increase their investment in dedicated support handles, improving their ability to respond quickly while serving more customers," said Adam Schoenfeld, CEO of Simply Measured. "I expect we'll see this trend continue upward as more brands realize how easy it can be to meet the needs of socially savvy customers."

Brands using Twitter as a customer-service tool aren't abandoning their other customer-service strategies. Many businesses are choosing to funnel their Twitter requests to traditional support channels, where they are better equipped to process issues, track resolution and do so out of the public eye. Among the tactics that nearly half of businesses used in their tweets included linking users to a website, requesting more info, directing users to email, sending a Direct Message or asking them to call a support number.

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