Twitter is rolling out a major feature that should help businesses better take care of customer service and engage with customers privately. It could also encourage customers to engage more with businesses using Twitter in the first place.
A couple months ago, Twitter indicated it would lift the 140-character limit constraint of direct messages, and this week, it officially announced that this is rolling out. Now, the limit has been raised to 10,000 characters.
Do you think customers will be more willing to engage with businesses over DM with the limit raised? Share your thoughts about the change.
Just for reference, here's what 10,000 characters looks like:
Here's where that message would cut off in a Twitter DM before Twitter raised the limit:
That's an astronomical difference.
The new limit is rolling out across Android, iOS, Twitter.com, TweetDeck, and Twitter for Mac. The roll-out will take a few weeks to complete, but rest assured, if you can't already, you will soon be able to send and receive DMs that are much, much longer. Twitter said this about he announcement in a blog post:
While Twitter is largely a public experience, Direct Messages let you have private conversations about the memes, news, movements, and events that unfold on Twitter. Each of the hundreds of millions of Tweets sent across Twitter every day is an opportunity for you to spark a conversation about what’s happening in your world. That’s why we’ve made a number of changes to Direct Messages over the last few months. Today’s change is another big step towards making the private side of Twitter even more powerful and fun.
You may be wondering what this means for the public side of Twitter. In a word, nothing. Tweets will continue to be the 140 characters they are today, rich with commentary as well as photos, videos, links, Vines, gifs, and emoji. So, start working on those sonnets.
It's interesting that Twitter didn't mention customer service in that announcement, because that's a clear use case for Twitter DMs, and customer service is already something the company has been talking up a great deal lately. So has rival Facebook. Both companies want to be an ideal place for businesses to engage with customers, and honestly, I'd be surprised if that wasn't an underlying factor in Twitter's decision to raise the DM character limit.
Just a week ago, Twitter announced its Customer Service Playbook as well as a partnership with Sprout Social on new customer service tools. As the company noted, 80% of customer service requests on social are happening on Twitter, according to Socialbakers. It said it has also seen a 2.5X increase in the number of tweets to brands and their customer service usernames over the past two years.
“Not only are customers turning to Twitter for help, Twitter is also significantly more efficient and effective for companies who are seeing a cost per resolution on Twitter that’s ⅙ of what they’re seeing in call centers,” said Chris Moody, Vice President of Twitter Data Strategy. “And companies that developed social care capabilities improved year-over-year revenue per contact by 18.8% over companies without social customer service, according to a study by the Aberdeen group.”
Giving customers a better way to engage with businesses in private should go a long way toward making Twitter a more effective customer service channel for both businesses and customers alike. While some people are not shy about airing their grievances in public, others just won't do that, and have legitimate concerns that they'd like to get handled without an audience. Much of the time, these concerns probably take more than 140 characters to adequately explain. Sure, you could always send multiple messages, but that just adds friction to the experience.
As we've seen from Socialbakers data in the past, customer care response rates have been pretty abysmal, especially here in the U.S. which ranks near the bottom of the list of countries measured for both Twitter and Facebook.
Twitter recently released some of its own research, and gave brands four ways to “build customer service relationships”. That came in the form of this infographic about four ways brands can build customer service relationships on Twitter:
DMs can be incorporated into all four of these, and in fact could make it easier to do so. It's especially easier easier to get personal in a DM, as private conversations tend to be more comfortable for all involved.
Businesses should let it be known that Twitter DMs are an acceptable way for customers to reach them for customer service issues. Put it on your website, and display it on your Twitter profile. Let them know you're there and available for a private discussion. Just don't forget to actually be there.
Do you think Twitter's DM character count lift will make it a better customer service tool? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Images via Twitter