The social network rolls out new tools to help retailers quickly reply to shoppers’ customer service problems.

Just in time for the holidays, Twitter Inc. is boosting the customer service tools it offers retailers and other merchants.

Twitter is rolling out what it calls Welcome Messages that appear when a consumer opens a direct message with a retailer’s Twitter account, as well as chat bot-like Quick Replies that help guide consumers to share the specific information a retailer needs to handle the issue. A chat bot is interactive software that uses artificial intelligence to simulate human conversation.

Retailers with a Twitter account designated as one that provides support in direct messages can set up a default message in the support settings page of their Twitter Dashboard. Merchants can work with a variety of customer service vendors, including AssistAudienseConversableConversocialDexterHobbynoteLithiumMassivelyProximaRozieAISpredfastSprinklrand Sprout Social to develop Quick Replies.

Twitter expects merchants to use the two tools in concert. For example, after a consumer opens a direct message window toU.K. multichannel grocery chain Tesco Stores (No. 13 in the 2016 Global 1000), he is automatically greeted with the message, “Thank you for taking the time to get in touch today, please select the reason you’re contacting us today from the menu below so that we can get you to someone who can best help.” He can then choose from eight options, including “online grocery shopping” and “Tesco technical support.” Selecting “online grocery shopping” prompts the message, “Thank you, could you confirm your surname, first line of your address, your postcode and a summary of your query? This will allow our agents to serve you that little bit faster. Every little helps! A member of our team will get back to you shortly.”

“When quick replies and welcome messages are used together, businesses can reduce wait times and educate people on the best ways to interact with them,” Ian Cairns, Twitter customer service product manager, writes in a blog post. “For example, they can enable faster resolutions by helping customers more easily provide information to solve problems before an agent sees the first message, or they can simplify automated services and transactional flows that were difficult in the past.”


The tools are similar to those rolled out by Facebook Messenger in July. Messenger offers an option for developers to feature a “persistent menu” that, with a tap, displays available commands like “Go Shopping,” “On Sale,” “Top Sellers” and “Help.” It also offers a tool called Quick Replies that retailers can use to offer up to 10 buttons that align with the most recent message sent by the business to drive a conversation. An apparel retailer can ask, for instance, what type of clothing a shopper is looking for and offer such options as “shirts,” “pants” and “shoes.” Once the shopper makes a selection, new buttons appear to zero in on what the shopper is seeking.

Among the merchants using the Twitter customer service tools are music streaming service Spotify AB (via @SpotifyCares), antivirus software retailer Symantec Corp. (via @NortonSupport) and Tesco (via @Tesco).