Twitter Customer Service Direct Messaging Gets a Makeover

Twitter has become a staple part of many companies' customer service strategies because it provided an easy route for getting in touch with businesses directly. With the introduction of chatbots and automated responses, however, companies run the risk of losing that level of authenticity. But now, Twitter is updating its direct messaging with Custom Profiles, enabling brands to differentiate automated responses from human responses during interactions with customers.

When a customer contacts a brand, Twitter will now indicate when messages are coming from a real person rather than a chatbot. Verified brands can even customize direct messages with the names and photos of agents talking with customers. If conversations transition between real people and bots or vice versa, customers are alerted to the shift within the direct message environment.

"People love reaching out to businesses on Twitter because they can get connected to real people when they need help," Twitter's customer service product lead Ian Cairns wrote in a blog post. Furthermore, the addition of photos and names to agents' responses will humanize engagements. "Private conversations become more human and personal by showing the real face, name, and title of the care agent who is speaking," Cairns explained.

Custom profiles will be available through Twitter's Direct Message API, meaning that technology providers such as Assist, Conversable, Dexter, Lithium, Sprinklr, Spredfast, and Sprout Social can incorporate the capability into their products and offer it to customers.

T-Mobile is the first verified account to experiment with the feature. "T-Mobile's team is famous for care because we're constantly looking for ways to improve and personalize the customer experience," Callie Field, executive vice president of customer care at T-Mobile, said in a company statement. "We're proud to be the first company to deliver an even more personalized experience through Twitter custom profiles."

Twitter continues to innovate its customer service offerings, especially now that it's competing with branded chatbots on Facebook and other social support channels. At the end of last year, Twitter and Applied Marketing Science released findings from a survey of 3,139 consumers that had previously sought out customer service from pizzerias and airlines through Twitter.

The results revealed that customers were willing to spend 3 to 20 percent more on purchases from companies that they communicated with through Twitter.  Customers that engaged with brands via Twitter were also 30 percent more likely to recommend that brand to others, and 44 percent more likely to share their specific experiences with others. The new Direct Message features are designed to keep that customer service momentum going.

The updated Direct Message API is currently in a private beta, but developers looking to build on the new API platform can apply for access here.


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