Twitter's direct message chatbots: Our verdict

(c)iStock/Prykhodov  

Brands who use Twitter direct message as a customer service tool should be pretty happy with the platform's latest addition.  

Twitter is now allowing brands to set their own welcome message, which automatically appears when a user opens the DM box. This tells customers how they can interact with the brand and can include deep links and other features.

But the magic is in the platform's new Quick Replies feature, essentially a chatbot which prompts people with suggestions as to how to reply and in return provides answers.

MarketingTech tried out the new functionality on three brands' Twitter accounts to see how it's being used.   

We found that Pizza Hut, for example, is using the DM facility to guide people into ordering food via Twitter - along with a very tasty picture of some delicious-looking pizza (which only served to encourage us even further).  

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However, when you reply to this, the bot simply sends the same message again - giving us the impression that while the basic functionality is there, the chatbots aren't yet massively intuitive or personality-driven.   

We then tried out Tesco's DM to see what it had in store. Interestingly, this was very different, providing a menu of options for us to choose from.   

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While this is vastly helpful, clicking on one of the options (we chose the first one) takes the menu away, and the only way to get it back is to delete your DM conversation and start again. 

However, our favourite use of the bot was from The Weather Network. As you can see below, it was the most interactive, asking us lots of questions to get to the right results. 

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Following this conversation, we were asked if we wanted to sign up for daily weather updates, which facilitates an ongoing conversation between the brand and customer, should they choose to accept.

The examples above show that brands can really get a lot out of this new functionality - but you a) must first have or encourage people to chat with you via DM and b) work on getting the right combination of welcome message and quick reply.

It's certainly worth spending time setting this up properly, and incentivising customers to speak to you via DM as it cuts out a lot of time spent answering replies.

The new features are as a result of Twitter's work with martech companies such as Lithium, Proxama and Sprout Social, amongst others, and they're working to bring more functionality around this to customers soon, too.

For brands wanting to get started, you can look at the support settings page of Twitter dashboard. For some more ideas of how brands are using this, check out: @EvernoteHelps, @PizzaHut, @AirbnbHelp,@SpotifyCares, @NortonSupport, @Tesco, @TfLTravelAlerts,@WeatherNetwork, and @AirTailor.

 

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