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Twitter Wants to Help Your Customer Service Team

February 19, 2016, 8:30 PM UTC
Photograph by Bloomberg

Facebook (FB) is vocal about its strategy to turn its Messenger chat service into a conduit for customer service. Twitter (TWTR) supports a similar vision, one that advanced this week with two updates to its social media platform.

The first change comes in the form of software enabling customer service representatives to turn public support inquiries into private interactions by transferring them to Twitter’s Direct Message system. There, concerns could theoretically be resolved without the eyes of the Twittersphere watching. Kaiser Permanente and Hyatt (H) are just two of the companies that have already embraced the new technology.

Twitter has also introduced an entirely new feature, called Customer Feedback, which encourages customers to share how they feel after specific support conversations.

Both additions are meant to help businesses address comments and complaints directed at them in Tweets. Some estimates peg that at least half of all U.S. social media visitors use these forums to vent about a problem or ask for help, underscoring the need for better methods of handling those comments quickly.

“Many of our advertisers tell us that over 80% of their inbound social customer service requests happen on Twitter,” product manager Ian Cairns wrote in a blog post about the new features. “These businesses generate impressive results—not only are their customers more satisfied, but they also see a cost per resolution that is one-sixth the cost of a call center interaction.”

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You won’t be surprised to hear that Salesforce is one of the companies moving quickly to take advantage of Twitter’s new services by integrating them into its customer relationship management systems. “When an airline sees a service complaint on Twitter, after resolving the issue, it can send the customer a quick survey directly in that customers feed, asking them for feedback on that experience,” wrote Salesforce (CRM) senior vice president Mike Milburn, in a blog. “Once received, that feedback is automatically routed into Salesforce, where it can be analyzed and acted upon by service and marketing teams.”

More than a half-dozen other social analytics and customer service software companies have disclosed their intentions to support Twitter’s new features, including Conversocial, Hootsuite, Lithium, Spredfast, Sprinklr, and Sprout Social.

How important is social customer service? It’s central to wireless carrier Sprint’s ongoing quest to add—and keep—new subscribers.

Last year, the mobile provider engaged Conversocial to help it use Facebook Messenger to manage interactions more closely. That strategy has reduced the number of complaints and inquiries shared on the network publicly by about 23%, according to metrics published by Conversocial.