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Twitter takes on Facebook as it rolls out customer service chatbots within direct messages

Twitter has joined the battle of the bots, announcing the launch of several new features designed to encourage brands to use it as a customer service platform.

The social network has ramped up the tools it offers to companies using its direct messaging function in order to reach customers. The fresh features include the introduction of automated 'welcome messages' and 'quick replies' which let businesses prompt people with the best ways to reply to a direct message.

The automated welcome message shows up whenever a customer begins a conversation with a brand's business account. Businesses can create multiple welcome messages and deep link directly to a specific greeting from tweets, websites, or apps.

Meanwhile, quick replies ask customers for more specific information about their request before a private conversation has even started. So, for example, if a customer tweets a brand with a query or a complaint the company can kick start a private chat in order to find out more. Buttons will then prompt the customer to give further information so the issue can be resolved within Twitter's walls.

Brands currently using the service include Furni and Evernote, Transport for London (TfL) has also been making use of the feature following a series of integrations with the platform earlier this year.

Phil Young, head of online at TfL said: “Millions of people across London check their phones every day to get the latest travel information on social media, apps and web. Making this as easy as possible is key to helping customers avoid delays and we are always looking to try new things to improve the experience.

"We are delighted to be the first European transport authority piloting this latest innovation from Twitter and we’re sure that followers of our live Tube and rail travel feeds will love this improved experience."

Twitter's attempt to lure brands by positioning itself as a customer service platform comes as the company continues to struggle with growth and revenue. However, the renewed features could provide it with a much-needed boost given the rising popularity of chatbots. Since Facebook launched its Bots on Messenger service earlier this year over 11,000 brands and individuals have developed programs for the channel.