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Twitter Puts Some Eggs in Customer Service Basket

By David Jones
Feb 22, 2016 2:32 PM PT

Twitter last week announced two tools designed to help businesses improve their customer service capabilities.

One product would allow users to move from sending companies tweets to using Direct Messages, according to product manager Ian Cairns.

Companies will be able to embed on their sites a Direct Messages link. The link would display a call-to-action button that would let customers directly send information they may not want to share publicly.

Many of Twitter's advertisers have told the company that 80 percent of their customer service requests come in via Twitter, costing one-sixth the price of a typical call center interaction to resolve, he said.

Hyatt and Kaiser Permanente have begun to implement the technology, according to Cairns.

Better Interaction

The second tool is called "Customer Feedback." It would allow users to privately share information with a company following a customer service interaction.

Companies will be able to use two standard question formats: Net Promoter Score and customer satisfaction.

All businesses will be able to use Direct Messaging immediately, while the Customer Feedback tool will be rolled out to select brands over the next couple of weeks, Cairns said.

Twitter is working with customer service partners such as Conversocial, Hootsuite, Lithium, Salesforce, Spredfast, Sprinklr and Sprout Social to roll out the features. It's also working with Delighted to let businesses view Net Promoter Score surveys collected on Twitter and email.

The company has no immediate plans to charge for the new services, according to a source familiar with the company's thinking, who added that Twitter has a thriving advertising business.

Two weeks ago, Twitter unveiled a product called First View, which lets companies promote new products or share other stories through video.

Measuring Success

Twitter has stumbled of late in its efforts to convince investors that it has a long-term business model to generate revenue.

There is no way to predict whether the new tools will help the company turn itself around, because it may be a great idea, but without widespread customer adoption, that won't matter, analyst Jeff Kagansaid.

"I'm glad to see Twitter tinkering around with their secret recipe," he told CRM Buyer.

"This boils down to a network effect, and we don't spend the attention we need on network effects in part because their impacts are hard to measure, though they are real," Denis Pombriant, managing director of Beagle Research, told CRM Buyer.

One of the biggest challenges for a company like Twitter is to create new solutions without disrupting or disappointing customers, noted Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT.

"Some will say that Twitter is simply emulating Facebook, but messaging has been around since Mark Zuckerberg has been in diapers. More important is whether this new service can improve customer service without inspiring users to run for the exits," he told CRM Buyer. "Overall, I believe it will."

David Jones is a freelance writer based in Essex County, New Jersey. He has written for Reuters, Bloomberg, Crain's New York Business and The New York Times.

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