Twitter is improving its direct messages with new features geared specifically for brands that use the platform for customer service interactions. Available through its developer API, brands can leverage welcome messages and quick replies to improve the overall experience. Twitter has enlisted the support of quite a few social media and customer service technology providers, including Assist, Audiense, Conversable, Conversocial, Dexter, Hobbynote, Lithium, Massively, Promixa, Rozie, Spredfast, Sprinklr, and Sprout Social.

“People love using Twitter to talk to businesses,” explained product manager Ian Cairns in an interview with VentureBeat. He described scenarios that users are familiar with: Whether having a good or bad experience with a company, be it United Airlines, Comcast, Zappos, or T-Mobile, Twitter has been the place to have conversations. “Businesses have gotten involved because customers are there,” Cairns said.

A welcome message and quick replies showcased in a Twitter direct message.

Above: A welcome message and quick replies showcased in a Twitter direct message.

Image Credit: Twitter

Welcome messages and quick replies are not available through Twitter’s dashboard, but rather its API. It has given the aforementioned services early access, which means those customers can immediately implement them. With welcome messages, brands can provide automatic greetings to their customers, whether it’s from a tweet, website, or app. The intention is to allow businesses to “demonstrate their commitment to service and help people learn what options exist.” Think of it as the onboarding process to a conversation.

Quick replies are like multiple choice answers customers can select when responding to a direct message, and can be customized through third-party services.

In essence, Twitter added support for these features in its API, but it’s up to services like Assist, Sprinklr, and Lithium to let brands create the customer experience they want. Companies already taking advantage of these new options include Evernote, Pizza Hut, Airbnb, Spotify, Norton, Tesco, Weather Network, and Transport for London.

“Twitter has moved into the core part of platforms that businesses are using for customer care alongside phones, email, and web chat,” Cairns stated. “It’s no longer about social marketing teams, but core customer care teams [that are responding on Twitter]. Companies are running a serious business here and are looking for help in scaling it.”

The addition of welcome messages and quick replies expands Twitter’s capabilities around Direct Messages, designed to shore up tools for brands to use. Other updates include removing the 140-character limit for these communications, enabling you to have longer discussions; adding call-to-action buttons to websites that let customers message you directly; and launching a customer feedback tool and deep linking support within chats for businesses.

For Cairns, he thinks that the latest announcement is a noteworthy one: “It’s one more milestone on the path to make Twitter the best platform to get customer service.”