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Twitter launches customer service tool to tackle difficult conversations

A new Twitter feature aims to shift customer service conversations straight to Direct Message. It’s not before time.

Any new channel created by an organisation will be discovered by the public and used as a means of communication. It’s particularly acute for public sector, consumer and service organisations.

You can plot the impact of technology on customer service within organisations over time: post, phone, fax, email, website, and most recently social media.

Today any difference between an individual’s expectation of your product or service and the reality results in a conversation on social media.

We shouldn’t be surprised. Social media is a means of conversation or two-way communication between an organisation and its publics.

Most organisations still view social media as a marketing tool for broadcasting messages. It spotlights the difference between marketing and public relations.

Twitter customer service

If you want to resolve a complaint quickly, head to Twitter and tweet the organisation concerned. It’s the modern equivalent of writing to the chief executive at head office.

You can see this behaviour every day as people commute to work and tweet about road works, cancelled trains and delayed buses. It takes less than ten seconds to open Twitter and vent at an organisation.

Social media savvy organisations have recognised the potential for reputational damage and moved quickly to respond to customers. Conversations are moved to direct message or offline as quickly as possible.

Most situations are handled quickly but occasionally Twitter can become an ugly place for organisations as users moan and bitch.

Twitter has launched a rudimentary customer service tool in beta to help organisations manage conversations. It’s not before time. It follows Facebook’s move into customer service via Facebook Messenger bots and chat earlier this year.

Welcome messages in Twitter direct messages prompt people to contact organisations directly rather than via the public feed.

A series of multiple options are provided followed by so-called Quick Reply prompts that guide people to enter specific information. It’s a very basic bot.

The tool rolled out today via the app and website.

The following organisations have adopted the new tool: @AirbnbHelp, @AirTailor, @EvernoteHelps, @Gov, @NortonSupport, @PizzaHut, @SpotifyCares, @Tesco, @TfLTravelAlerts and @WeatherNetwork.

Welcome messages

Starting a direct message conversation with supermarket @Tesco generates eight prompts.

tesco1

Quick replies

Selecting Online Grocery Shopping generates a response asking for surname, address and postcode, and promises that a member of the Tesco team will respond promptly.

tesco2

This new feature isn’t about to bring about a revolution in customer service but it is an interesting solution from Twitter that has recognised how people use the platform to engage with organisations.

Adopting the new customer service tool

If you’re an organisation that provides support in direct messages, you can greet people with a welcome message by setting up a default in the support settings page of Twitter Dashboard.

Twitter has worked with social media management tool vendors Assist, Conversable, Conversocial, Spredfast and Sprout Social, to bring the new services to market.

If you’re interested in creating automated experiences in direct messages contact one of the partners directly for more information.

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Stephen Waddington

Partner and Chief Engagement Officer, Ketchum and Visiting Professor in Practice, Newcastle University.

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