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Twitter is once again tinkering with direct messages, this time to let brands show customers that they’re communicating with a human, not an automated bot. With custom profiles, businesses no longer have to respond with their company name; they can instead insert a customer service agent’s name and photo so that users feel more at ease.

T-Mobile is one of the first companies to use Twitter's custom profiles feature within direct messages.

Above: T-Mobile is one of the first companies to use Twitter’s custom profiles feature within direct messages.

Image Credit: Twitter

The first partner to use this feature is T-Mobile, which, as a telecommunications company, has long used Twitter to address customer feedback. Now when you interact with the @TMobileHelp account, you’ll see the real face, name, and title of the customer service agent who’s helping you.

“People love reaching out to businesses on Twitter because they can get connected to real people when they need help,” explained Twitter’s customer service product lead, Ian Cairns, in a blog post. Today’s feature gives select companies the ability to humanize interactions. While many businesses are now using bots to respond to inquiries, there are still instances when a human being is needed. Custom profiles is a way to avoid sticking customers being with a bland avatar that makes it hard for them to know whether they’re talking to a robot or a human being.

Think back to the last time you interacted with a brand on Twitter, either to complain or to ask a question. When you received a reply, it might have come with a pseudo-signature like “^KY,” which indicates that it’s from a person. With custom profiles, agents can continue to append messages with their signatures, but customers will have a better idea of who they’re dealing with thanks to the avatar photo, name, and title.

Custom profiles is Twitter’s most recent effort to make direct messages more useful for brands. As companies increasingly turn to Facebook Messenger to interact with customers, Twitter is working hard to remain relevant. That’s why it has not only launched this feature, it has also partnered with social media and customer service technology providers like Assist, Conversable, Dexter, Lithium, Sprinklr, Spredfast, and Sprout Social to support welcome messages and quick replies.

It’s important to note that these features Twitter supports are not being made available directly through the service. Instead, developers have the ability to incorporate the capabilities into their own offerings and market it to their customers. So if Sprinklr’s customers want to have custom profiles, it’ll be up to the social media company to integrate the code into its platform.

Custom profiles are available through Twitter’s Direct Message API, which remains in private beta. However, brands that are verified can be whitelisted by filling out a form here.

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