Twitter will soon let you put a name and a face to anyone dealing with customers online. T-Mobile USA is helping to trial the service but Evernote, Pizza Hut, Spotify, Air Tailor, Tesco, and a few other big brands are also on board.

The Human Element

Ian Cairns, Twitter’s customer service product lead, said in a blog post that the platform’s goal is to bring the human element into private conversations. The new service will make it clear when users are talking to real people rather than chat bots. He believes that, ‘People love reaching out to businesses on Twitter because they can get connected to real people when they need help.’

According to research from Twitter, personalised experiences that foster a human connection have big benefits for businesses. Cairns says that 77 percent of people are likely to recommend a brand after personalised customer service contact. Customers talking to real people are also 19 percent more likely to feel like their problem has been resolved and 22 percent more likely to feel satisfied.

Twitter Rolls Out New Customer Service DMs

Brands have signed on quickly. @TMobileHelp was the first account to use custom profiles in their DMs. Send a direct message to them, or to these accounts if you’d like to see the new feature in action: @SpotifyCares, @EvernoteHelps, @PizzaHut, @AirbnbHelp, @NortonSupport, @Tesco, @TfLTravelAlerts, @WeatherNetwork, and @AirTailor.

Keeping It Real

Custom profiles in direct messages show customers the real face and name of the customer care agent they’re talking to.

They also show the care agent’s job title. Callie Field, who is the Vice President of Customer Care at T-Mobile, said:

‘The award-winning T-Mobile team is famous for care because we’re constantly looking for ways to improve and personalize the customer experience. We’re proud to be the first company to deliver an even more personalized experience through Twitter custom profiles.’

The mobile carrier’s focus is on the human aspect of the service they provide, but Twitter’s new custom profiles also let you do smart things with bots – like creating brand bots based on real or fictional characters, making them more ‘real’ and relatable.

Twitter messaging

Other New Features

Twitter started trialing ways to make their customer service offering better in 2016. One test allowed brands to put the ‘Messaging’ button on the mobile app right in the center of a brand’s profile. This encouraged customers to talk to the brands who got on board directly rather than publicly. The new button was used by the likes of Uber, Apple, and Beats by Dre. Looking at their account profiles on your smartphone, you’d see the new messaging button taking over the space where the ‘Message’ and ‘Tweet To’ buttons used to live side to side.

Likely in response to the success of the messaging button, Twitter will soon allow all brands to add a ‘send a private message’ button to their tweets. That would mean your customer service could have a public conversation with someone up to a point and then send them a tweet including the option to talk directly with a single click or tap. If your brand’s Twitter account is mainly a customer service channel, as many are, you’ll see the benefit of this immediately. Customer concerns are better solved quickly and directly, and DMs have always done this more effectively than conversations on your newsfeed.

In the next few weeks Twitter will also be rolling out a more quantifiable way to measure customer service. Brands that sign up to the new custom profile service will also be able to survey their customers using Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) and Net Promoter Score (NPS) metrics.

Measuring Customer Satisfaction

When it comes to measuring customer satisfaction, the majority of methods used in the past haven’t been effective. Standard approaches included:

  • Mailer campaigns leading to online surveys
  • Ebook downloads as a reward for answering a survey
  • Embedded Facebook surveys
  • Twitter surveys – i.e. using a hashtag to link responses to questions you pose about a service or product offering
  • Asking customers to leave a rating in a comment on your Facebook page

These measurement options all have their limits. Very few people sign up for direct mail marketing, limiting the size of your survey sample. Ebooks put together by marketers are not a great incentive to complete a survey. Finally, reviews on Twitter and Facebook simply don’t work as a measure of consumers’ overall feelings towards your brand.

The easiest way gauge how happy your customers are is through sentiment. Sentiment measurement uses powerful computing to scan a large number of online conversations and find out what underlying emotions are being expressed. For example, are your Twitter followers angry? Mostly happy? Very unhappy? Or somewhere in-between? Social media analytics tools make measuring sentiment as easy as pulling a report with the click of a few buttons.

When you know how many people are unhappy, who they are, and why they’re unhappy, you can correct it. On the other hand, plenty of positive sentiment lets you know you’re on the right track and that you probably don’t need to change anything you’re doing.

The CSAT and Net Promoter Score are the gold standard in scoring customer satisfaction. If Twitter’s new survey feature using them is designed well, this could be a game changer for the social networking platform. These scores, combined with sentiment analysis, would be incredibly powerful tools for brands.

Sentiment Analysis

Things You Can Do Right Now

You don’t need to wait for custom DMs and new customer satisfaction surveys to make service on Twitter better right now. You can’t go wrong if you always focus on:

Speed. Quick responses on Twitter can mean the difference between a PR disaster and a very happy client.
Planning. Based on previous experiences with customers, you should know what to expect from them. Make sure your customer service agents are always ready with the right responses.
Sounding real. Until you’ve tried out Twitter’s new service, you can make sure it’s clear that your customers are talking to real people by avoiding stock responses. Keep agents’ tone on brand, but allow them some personality. You might want them to introduce themselves to customers on DM by sharing their name.
Moving to DM when it’s necessary. If a customer is reluctant, explain that you’d like their personal details so that you can get in touch with them in the case of needing a refund or further responses at a later time.
Resolving the query. Always follow up to let people know that their query has been resolved. If this is going to take time, let them know that it is and explain why. Never let a customer feel ignored.

Twitter’s new DMs are in beta now (they’re being trialled privately) but they’ll be rolled out widely in a few weeks.