Ever the crowd-pleaser, Twitter continues to double-down on being a favored social media network for customer service. This checks out, as the platform is designed for quick messages that are typically sent from a mobile device so customers can reach out to brands while in their stores or on the move. It’s a little easier to tweet to a brand than it is to connect with them while on Facebook on a mobile device because of Facebook’s layout. Fewer clicks or entries means easier communication. Now this communication will not only be seamless, but more human with the rollout of Twitter avatars for customer service.

In late 2016, Twitter released a new feature to allow some brand handles to use automated responses in direct messages. The idea was to make the brand page appear to be more responsive. After all, social media is about being social, not just another text-based automated response tree.

To show that customers are working with individual agents, brands use some type of agent signature in their tweets. Typically, the signatures are some type of initials in public tweets due to the limitation of 140 characters, but in DMs that’s not an issue.

Cut to 2017. T-Mobile has been featured as one of the early access brands to the Twitter rollout allowing individual agents to have their own avatar, or picture, inside a DM conversation instead of the brand’s avatar. You can see from this early example the agent also gets their own name attached to the conversation with their Twitter avatar.

Twitter Avatars

As of this writing, if your brand’s Twitter handle has been Verified, you can request to be whitelisted for the new rollout of Twitter avatars here.

When considering to use any new feature on any social media network, refer to your channel purpose and content guide (if you don’t know what this is, we need to talk … we develop it as part of our proprietary #Path2Social). SocialPath Solutions works with our client companies to develop these guide books so it is easier to know which new tools are best suited for use.

A small example of developing your content guide includes determining if your brand is a unified voice or highly personalized. If the latter, it does not make as much sense to add the individual IDs. After all, it is the brand providing service to the customer, not the individual. Another factor to consider is the service model your social media team uses. Concierge teams that gather information and forward the issue to another team for resolution will want to think harder about individual IDs because of agent continuity and the seamless customer experience between agents.

Outside of the new feature rollout, there have been an increasing number of conversations regarding Twitter’s future. It has been suggested that the company use their $544 million in cash reserves to buy Freshdesk or Zendesk as part of a larger play towards becoming an end-to-end customer service provider. But buying a software platform for end-to-end customer service is not the soundest investment in Twitter’s future as the face of social media customer service. The two SAAS providers bring with them the challenges of live-chat support, email support, and ticketing services. These are outside of the scope of Twitter’s core strength as a real-time newsfeed and would add unnecessary complications to the business.

Twitter would also stand to lose the benefit of selling its data access and API to all-in-one software companies like Sprinklr or existing (and would be competing) social media customer service providers like Conversocial who have matured the social media SAAS model. They’ve already shown that they have challenges with competing with existing SAAS platforms by shuttering Dashboard, their short-lived option to Hootsuite, Buffer, or Sprout Social for business-based Twitter accounts.

Creating new features and options that other software platforms can leverage is a move in the right direction. Twitter has not released many details about how this new avatar and profile tool will work for all businesses outside of a chosen few pilot programs. We’ll be sure to share more details regarding the Twitter avatars as they become available.

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