Buffer Adds Twitter-Based Customer Service Tools

Buffer is best known as a scheduling tool to help marketing teams schedule content on social media, but with the acquisition of Respondly, it signaled a plan to expand its repertoire to also cover customer service users.

One of Buffer’s claims to fame is its policy of radical openness, which continued in its process for making its first major acquisition. This week, the company is launching the fruits of its acquisition, in the form of a new product: Respond.

“With Respond as part of the Buffer family of products, it fundamentally changes us as a company.” says Buffer’s CEO Joel Gascoigne. “We’re excited to grow to serve the needs of customers both in terms of marketing, as well as now customer service and brand monitoring.”

Respond helps companies reach their audiences, reply to queries, and monitor what’s being said about them. The service imports tweets @-mentioning the company, or simply mentioning them by name. From there, they are put into an inbox, enabling the customer service / social media teams to respond and engage, keep track of conversations, and ensure no interactions slip between the cracks.

The Respond user interface

The Respond user interface


In addition to facilitating DMs and public conversations, Respond supports custom search queries, which appear alongside user tweets etc., making it possible to step into conversations even where the company isn’t @mentioned.

Respond’s launch comes at a time when Twitter is making a push for better customer service functionality on its own platform.

Respond retains most of the original look and feel of the old Respondly app, but the Buffer team did make a few changes. Among other things, Buffer implemented Gnip search to facilitate real-time search, for example. In addition, the package was optimized for teams, including double-reply detection, signatures for customer service representatives, and the ability to assign conversations between users.

“A key opportunity this triggers for us is to be a complete social media solution for larger companies, agencies and enterprises who want to work with a single product across both marketing and customer service departments,” says Gascoigne. He further hints that more enterprise features are on the way. 

We had over 2,000 people sign up,” Buffer says, adding that another 1,000 new customers have signed up today. The company says that some Silicon Valley household names are already using Respond, including Product Hunt, Slack, WordPress and Stripe.

Users can sign up for Respond now, and the basic plan is free.