Twitter Is Testing More Customer Service Features

As Twitter continues to struggle and analysts start to speculate about a possible sale, the company is continuing to roll out features dedicated to the social customer service space. One new tool is designed to let consumers know when a brand is most active based on how quickly it responds to tweets and messages. Another is an updated Featured Tweet capability, which enables brands to pinpoint specific tweets that will remain fixed at the top of their feeds for other users to see immediately.

Though the response time capability is still in the testing phase and appears to be available only on a select number of brand pages, analysts say it’s a promising tool modeled after a similar feature available on Facebook Pages. Back in August of last year, Facebook released a badge for responsive brands and displayed it on the profile pages of companies that answered 90 percent of messages within 15 minutes.

While high response speed is something that brands should aspire to, they should be careful about sacrificing the effectiveness of a response for its efficiency. A common practice among brands on Twitter is replying to customer questions or comments with a request to start a private message conversation, which registers as a response but doesn't necessarily resolve the customer's problem. What happens behind closed doors in the private message environment is not always clear.

"Time is always of the essence when responding to customer service issues. As long as the new service doesn't degrade the quality of the service, then it is the right direction," says Natalie Petouhoff, vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research. "The balance between effectiveness and efficiency has always been an issue in customer service, and each brand has to figure out the expectations of their customers and determine the service level they need to provide," she adds.

Twitter is also testing out the Featured Tweet functionality, which would allow brands to highlight a past tweet and keep it pinned above other tweets in their feed. This could be a helpful tool for brands that frequently answer the same questions, Petouhoff points out. "If the Featured Tweet has an answer to a question the brand is seeing a lot of requests for, then it would be useful," she says. Alternatively, brands can use the tool to unveil product updates or make other announcements that require more long-term exposure than a passing tweet.

These updates, which are not yet available to all users, are the latest in a series of customer service improvements that the company has made. Back in February, Twitter debuted a Direct Message capability with deep links, which enable users to send private messages to businesses quicker and more effectively. The company also introduced customer satisfaction surveys that allow businesses to send customers private surveys to evaluate customer service interactions and get their opinions of the company.

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