With revenue falling and user growth stagnant, Twitter is repositioning itself as a channel for customer service. But while brands have welcomed the pivot, consumers may not be so eager.

In September, the company introduced features to encourage seamless conversations between brands and consumers. For example, brands can indicate in their profile that they provide customer support on Twitter and display the hours that help is available. Brand profiles also have a more prominent Direct Message button, informing consumers that they don’t need to broadcast their concerns to the larger Twitterverse.

Brands have eagerly adopted these features: two-thirds of brands tracked by L2 use their Twitter accounts for customer service. However, consumers haven’t exactly rushed to engage. The average brand communicates with just 157 customers per month via Twitter posts, and in the Fashion sector, that number is only 64. L2’s Social Platforms report finds that between Q1 and Q3 2016, the average number of unique customers to whom Index brands replied on Twitter declined by 15%.

Customer service

While using Twitter for customer service makes sense from an efficiency point of view – it’s hard to beat the convenience of direct messaging with brands – this finding makes clear that the strategy is also limited in practicality. Given Twitter’s waning user growth, many consumers aren’t on the platform, and the small percentage who do use Twitter might not know or care about the new customer service features.

For brands that are already routinely mentioned on Twitter, it makes sense to invest in customer service on the channel. This includes Department Stores such as Macy’s and Marks and Spencer, which receive more than 10,000 Twitter mentions and communicate with more than 800 customers each month, according to L2’s study. Lululemon also stands out in this regard, addressing the concerns of more than 900 customers each month and even providing personalized product recommendations.

Brand mentionsBut for other brands, messaging platforms may be a more worthwhile destination to build a customer service presence. As Twitter declines, Facebook Messenger has acquired one billion users. Moreover, 81% of brands tracked by L2 already have Messenger accounts, making it easy for them to expand their live chat capabilities. Yet most brands currently lag at addressing inquiries on the platform. Fewer than a third of brands take less than an hour to respond, according to L2’s study – a problem that they’ll need to remedy in order to turn the messaging app into a destination for high-touch live customer service.

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