Twitter’s New Customer Service Tool

This week I thought I’d take a look at Twitter’s newest development in keeping with last week’s post (you can read about Instagram’s latest feature here).

Acknowledging the significant number of customer service interactions occurring on the platform, Twitter has announced a new feature which allows organisations to respond to customer service queries via Direct Message.

Twitter has become the go-to platform for consumers to vent at organisations and often becomes a battleground for moaning customers and complaints.



Although this does give organisations the opportunity to respond quickly and directly to customer complaints (sometimes very wittily, see below photo), it also draws negative attention to your brand in a very public domain.




So what does Twitter’s new feature mean for organisations?

Basically, Welcome Messages encourage customers to send the organisation a Direct Message and move the conversation to a more private arena. It also gives the option of including Quick Replies, so that users will receive an automated response to inform them of the quickest way to resolve their query.

Twitter said:

“When quick replies and welcome messages are used together, businesses can reduce wait times and educate people on the best ways to interact with them. For example, they can enable faster resolutions by helping customers more easily provide information to solve problems before an agent sees the first message, or they can simplify automated services and transactional flows that were difficult in the past.”

Overall, this seems to be a good thing for businesses. Less negative tweets, and customer complaints being resolved quickly and often automatically, therefore reducing time and money spent on social media resolutions.

Ever the pessimist

However, I would like to take a moment to consider the implications of this a bit further.

Yes, customers are directed to send you a private message, but reducing the number of negative Tweets in the public domain could also be seen as whitewashing over problems.

Part of the charm of social media is that almost everything is in the public domain, creating a level playing field between brands and their followers. If users are being directed to send the organisations private messages as opposed to Tweeting them publically it could remove the transparency and imply that the business is wilfully hiding negative comments.

One of the draws of social media is the two-way avenues of conversation it affords. It makes organisations accessible and humanises them to create positive reactions from target audiences. If, as a business, you start to answer complaints with automated responses it could create more negativity in your customers.

How often have automated phone options made you angrier than you were originally?

Its also worth considering that customers intending to leave you positive feedback will also be directed to send your organisation a Direct Message. Meaning that this feature will also reduce the positive interactions you have with your customers that often act in the way of endorsements for your business.

While overall this move makes sense in terms of protecting an organisation’s reputation from negative attention, I think there will be a fine line between it going very right and very wrong.

After all, it is all about the public’s reaction and the feature’s success depends upon whether they choose to embrace it, or not.

What do you think?



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