As Twitter goes about its reinvigoration process (on which, today's the day their NFL live-streaming coverage begins), one element which has been steadily moving along, though it's seen less focus, is using the platform for customer service.
There's plenty of reasons why Twitter is a great social customer service option - according to research conducted by Social Bakers last year, more than 80% of customer service requests on social are happening on Twitter, and there's been a more than 2.5X increase in the number of Tweets to brands and their customer service usernames in the past two years (or had been at the time of the study).
That makes sense - Twitter's known as the real-time network, where you go to send short messages that generate fast response. Often, these days, people will tweet a brand when they're sick of waiting on hold for phone support.
And while the speed of interaction on Twitter is a key factor, another element at play is exposure. Tweets are more public, more open to all viewers than other networks. Customers can use this to advantage by calling out brands in front of their followers - which is likely to become even more prevalent now that Twitter is showing tweets that begin with @names to all (as opposed to having to put a full stop before an @name previously).
But while improving customer service is not specifically mentioned on their strategic focus list, Twitter has been working to enhance their customer service options. They removed the 140 character limit from DMs last year and introduced new tools to help brands transition tweet queries to DM back in February, along with new customer feedback tools to help brands improve their processes.
And now, Twitter's adding more tools to help businesses improve their customer service via tweet with new support options and display tools to help customers better understand their customer service options.
As shown in the image, brands will now be able to indicate that their profile provides support - when they do this, there'll be a new, large 'Message' prompt displayed on their profile and a badge that indicates when they're available to respond to messages.
In addition, profiles with the new customer service features switched on will also have an indicator show up next to their profile in search results to signify that they provide customer support.
The new options have been in test mode for some time - they were first spotted back in July on certain profiles.
Those initial trials obviously showed promise, as Twitter's making these new tools available to all users from today.
To activate the new support options, you need to go to a new customer support settings page in your Twitter Dashboard.
As you can see, there's now an option available to indicate that your profile provides support, and a secondary prompt to indicate what hours your representatives are available via Twitter.
Once you tick the box indicating that your profile is a support account, you can specify the times and time zone in the second field.
It's a great option for those using the platform for customer support, and brands in the initial trials have indicated that the new tools have helped improve responsiveness.
In addition to this, Twitter also notes that their other recent customer support additions have also yielded good results.
"On average, Customer Feedback requests receive a response more than 60% of the time. Many brands have told us that is ~5-10x the average response rate they get for other feedback surveys. Early use has also shown that customers who are sent a Direct Message link follow through to actually send a message roughly 30% more often than those who are asked to send a message via text only."
In some ways, it's a little surprising to see that improving customer service options isn't higher on Twitter's priority list, given the capacity for the platform to provide fast, responsive options on this front. The company's key focus right now on simplifying their core product and boosting live-streams, which both obviously hold significant importance. But Twitter's a great platform for immediate customer interaction, and given that Facebook's looking to muscle in on this turf with their Messenger for business options, including bots, you'd think Twitter would want to solidify their hold in this area - or maybe even add in bot interactions of their own.
That makes even more sense when you know that Twitter's already utilizing similar forms of automation, like helping public transport users in India get more information about travel times and delays.
Given the possibilities, customer service seems like it could be an important, and valuable, area of growth for the company, and while they are introducing new tools like these new profile options to help boost the service in this regard, there may be greater opportunities in Twitter service worth exploring. Or maybe those new tools are in development and we'll see more on this front soon.
Twitter's new customer support features are available from today.