Twitter can occasionally be a good place to get decent customer service, but it's often hard to tell whether your cellular provider or cable company will actually respond to your Tweets. That should change soon, as Twitter's new tools for businesses will let you get a better sense of which companies have dedicated support accounts, as well as how responsive they are.
Now, when you search for companies such as AT&T and T-Mobile, you'll see a small "provides support" tag under their AT&T Cares and T-Mobile Help Twitter accounts, respectively. Click through to the actual page, and you'll see a new business hours tab in the bio section. For example T-Mobile notes that it's responsive 24/7, while AT&T suggests that you get in touch between 7 a.m. and 12 a.m.
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These new features build on the business tools that were rolled out earlier this year, including the ability for brands to Tweet customers with a direct link to their private message inbox in order to initiate a help conversation.
It makes sense for businesses to embrace Twitter as a place to provide customer support — why force your fans to dig through your website when you can meet them where they already are? Twitter support is a major component of our annual Carrier Support Showdown, and several carriers, such as Boost Mobile, seem to utilize direct messaging over social media in place of a proprietary live web chat service.
Twitter seems to be taking a slight cue from Facebook, whose business pages have long indicated how responsive a company is. Facebook Messenger also offers chatbots, which let you do things like buy clothes and order flowers without having to interact with an actual human.
Twitter's new tools seem like a good way to keep you from sitting on the phone for hours or dealing with cumbersome websites, so here's hoping that lots of big businesses embrace them. Just don't expect to actually buy things from your favorite brands on Twitter — the network's long-active buy buttons seem to have fizzled out fast.