Twitter Announces Bot Platform

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This week, Twitter essentially announced what you could call their entrance into the chatbot space, without ever mentioning the word “chatbot”:

Speed up customer service with quick replies & welcome messages in Direct Messages

Given that spam bots have been a challenge for Twitter in the past, it is not surprising they’re avoiding the term with this launch. Have a look at the video that accompanies their announcement:

You will realize that it lists all the value propositions of automation on a customer service channel, such as automating the voice channel via IVR:

  • Direct answers to customer questions
  • “Help without the annoying hold music”
  • Speed of issue resolution
  • 24/7 access to help
  • Seamless in-channel hand-over to live service when needed

Twitter does not provide an API or platform for natural language understanding themselves; instead they rely on their official partners to build platforms that help businesses with this emerging need. For now, the few bots that are out there rely on buttons:Twitter's chatbot relies on buttons

The list of first brands that have jumped on this new feature is more impressive than what some competitors have managed to line up, including Facebook at their annual developer conference F8 back in April: @EvernoteHelps, @PizzaHut, @AirbnbHelp, @SpotifyCares, @NortonSupport, @Tesco, @TfLTravelAlerts, @WeatherNetwork, @AirTailor.

Twitter is currently in private beta with this feature, and developers can ask for access here: https://dev.twitter.com/build/automation

What they’ve done here is promising for establishing Twitter as a platform for customer service. It should also be noted that they are one of the only messaging vendors stressing the service angle over the marketing or lead generation angle when it comes to the use of their platforms, which is another differentiator that could play out nice for them in the mid to long run.

We’ll see! For now, I am putting this to an already insanely impressive list of moves in the chatbot and conversational commerce space we’ve seen in 2016 so far…

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Tobias Goebel

Tobias is Director of Emerging Technologies at Aspect. He has over 14 years of experience in customer care technology and the contact center industry with roles spanning engineering, consulting, pre-sales engineering, program and product management, and product marketing. As part of Aspect's product management and marketing team today, he works on defining the future of the mobile customer experience, bringing together channels such as mobile apps, messaging, voice, and social. He is a frequent speaker and blogger on topics around customer service and, more recently, the (re-)emerging chatbot, NLP, and AI technologies. Tobias holds degrees in Computational Linguistics, Phonetics, and Computer Science from the universities of Bonn, Germany and Edinburgh, UK.
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2 thoughts on “Twitter Announces Bot Platform

  1. Wow, with the number of products offering Twitter automation (like CXP), I’m surprised the API wasn’t already a thing.

    The button approach is a nice end-run around NLU, a throw-back to classic IVR trees (For any support, press 1. For channel support, press 2, etc). People know exactly what to expect for automated help.

    1. Indeed, the buttons turn the experience into good old DTMF IVR. See also this “rant” about the topic: http://venturebeat.com/2016/11/02/chatbots-are-getting-better-at-conversation-or-are-they/

      However, it is less annoying, as the visual channel lets us consume the responses much much quicker than the voice channel, so the frustration effect of going down the wrong “branch” or having to listen to long-winded messages over the phone does not exist to the extent it does with IVR.

      Twitter had an API for their DM feature for a long time, but this latest move is one of their more obvious ones to actively support the idea of self-service on their platform.

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