Over the course of the last year of so something happened to customer support – a great deal of it moved on to twitter.
It started for me with the occasional “does anyone know what this error message means?” or “what adapter works best for X?” Even just a year ago the only folks on twitter were smart, technology oriented and ahead of the curve on most new technologies.
A funny thing has happened in the last few months. Just about any company that is active in online products and services is now providing tech support with a simple twitter request. These days I turn to twitter first to engage support for most of the tools I use.
Now that twitter has grown to about 20 gazillion users almost any company can and should be offering customer service and support via this mechanism. The expectation is growing for some users that all companies provide a level of support using this platform.
If your company is considering exploring twitter for support here are a couple ideas and a handful of tools that might make the task of providing service from your company a little easier than sitting 24/7 at your laptop.
Create a company support account and give it a company branded avatar. (Some large organizations have numerous folks participating on twitter and use KathyATCompany, which works as well.) Remember, this is support, pure and simple, so folks aren’t really looking to engage with @Chuckie, it’s OK for several folks in an organization to monitor and respond under one branded avatar. It’s also OK for support to come from a real social media person, but you may find you rotate people through this position as well.
The next step is search routines. You need to set up searches at search.twitter.com for your brands, products, and company and monitor them using a tool like tweetdeck or splitweet so that you can know when someone is asking about, complaining about, or praising what you’re tracking in order to respond.
There are enterprise tools for customer service interaction on twitter being built right into EPR and CRM tools by Salesforce.com, Cisco, and others, but here are a few free tools that might make your job a little easier.
- Tweetdeck – As mentioned above, tweetdeck can operate a bit like your desktop dashboard to help you set-up searches for key terms and respond directly.
- HootSuite – Hootsuite does a number of things, but for support one of the biggest tools is the ability to manage multiple accounts so you can easily jump back and forth from your personal account to the brand support account.
- Splitweet – Another pretty cool multiple twitter account manager that also allows you to monitor your brand mentions and has a mac desktop client.
- Tweet2tweet – this tool allows you to put two twitter names in and see the full discussion between the two much like Facebooks’ wall to wall. This can help understand a thread of messages or give you a view of an ongoing support thread you’re engaged in. (Site has been down some, so don’t know if it’s still around. Update – got support on new URL for T2T from, where else, twitter.)
- CoTweet – CoTweet is built for the company or brand that wants to both serve and engage new prospects. Used by organizations that need to have multiple people responding on the same account, but for now in private beta so you’ll have to request invite. @pistachio and @guykawasaki are advisors, maybe ask them 🙂
- Yammer and GroupTweet – These two aren’t really customer service tools per se, but that both have the nice function of allowing you send a tweet to a group of people you designate, so they are nice company twitter tools and could certainly be employed as a way to send information to an entire customer community.