Social media has become an increasingly important channel for customer service over the years, and Twitter in particular is one of the social platforms that has been used most broadly for customer service by brands ranging from airlines to retailers.

Now, brands using Twitter in a customer service capacity have access to new features that could help them better serve their customers on the popular service.

The first new feature allows companies to identify that a Twitter account provides support. When enabled, a “Provides support” highlight will appear next to the account name in search and compose suggestions. A Message button will also be automatically included on the account’s Twitter page, making it easier for users to seek out support through a Direct Message.

The second new feature allows companies to specify the hours that they offer support. When provided, Twitter will alert users to these hours so that users know the best times to ask for help.


Is social customer service even optional?

Twitter’s new features are available under a dedicated Customer Support settings section in the Twitter Dashboard, which the company launched earlier this year as “a powerful tool designed to help businesses connect with their customers and community.” The features become accessible to accounts that are configured to receive Direct Messages from all users.

Obviously, companies actively using Twitter for customer service will probably want to look at taking advantage of these new features, as they will potentially help them highlight the fact that they are making an effort to provide social customer service. The ability to display hours can also help them better manage customers’ expectations.

But what about brands that aren’t actively using Twitter for customer service?

Consumers are turning to social media for help whether companies like it or not, and lots of companies simply aren’t prepared to deal with this reality. As Search Engine Watch contributor Matt Owen (Read more...) noted, “A majority of businesses still file social under the marketing banner, rather than as a service department, which means that there are conflicting interests vying for channel space.”

That probably explains why, according to one study, companies don’t respond to a whopping two-thirds of the social media communications they receive.

Twitter’s growing suite of customer service features is a good reminder to companies that social media isn’t just about marketing, but those companies that choose not to Twitter’s new customer service functionality shouldn’t assume that their customers won’t seek out their help on Twitter just because they have decided not to embrace social customer service.

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