Friday, October 16, 2009

Twitter and customer service

Ppeople who spend any kind of time on the Internet are aware of the social networking system called Twitter. It's become a full part of the acknowledging that many people use on a day-to-day basis while it's a temporary annoyance for other people who haven't figured out how to integrate it into their business lives yet.

Twitter is sometimes difficult to understand until you've used it for a while. Since it's structured 140 characters, you have to think carefully before you add a tweet sincemany if not most things that you'd like to say would take more than 140 characters.

Some companies are openly embracing this technology and it can be pretty easy to find out which companies those are. I recently had a war experience with CitiMortgage. Their monthly envelopes have been hammering me to move my statements to paperless as it turns out I was speaking with a CitiMortgage on the telephone and asked the very pleasant customer service person if she wouldn't mind moving moving me to a paper of a statement. She informed me that although she would like to do this, she was unable to and I needed to log into my account on in order to turn my statements paperless.

It certainly seems ironic that, on one hand this enormous company has a desire to stop cutting down trees for their statements and giving me my information in bits as opposed to physical atoms. Technology is such a part of my life, that it would actually be easier for me to read my statements online. Therefore, I did have something to gain by going paperless. But at the same time CitiMortgage with its thousands of employees has something to gain also: there is physical labor involved in printing my statement however slight it may be. It cost them a small amount of money for the paper, the ink, and the labor involved in printing and delivering said statement to me every month so there's something that they can gain by switching that to a simple e-mail.

There's another company that I'd like to mention that seems to be doing the exact opposite. For the last several weeks I've been using with Dragon NaturallySpeaking 10 by Nuance. As a matter of fact, I'm dictating this blog entry with that exact product. I could list off some of the pluses and minuses of the Dragon NaturallySpeaking 10 later, but for right now I'd like to mention how they're using Twitter to support their customer base.

Upon receiving Dragon NaturallySpeaking 10 a few weeks ago, and after playing with it for a few days,I tweeted that I was enjoying the product and was amazed at its accuracy. Within approximately one hour I received a private tweet from Nuance customer service requesting that I alert them to any problems I may have with the product from that point on. I've not experienced any problems that I would need to bring up with customer service, but it's nice to know that there are looking over the shoulder of America to see if people are using their products and making sure that all was going well with them.

This all came about because I went to the local Milwaukee chapter of LikeMinded: a monthly networking group meets at the Rochambeau coffee shop in Milwaukee. One of the attendees was Jamie, an IT geek from Aurora Healthcare in Milwaukee. Jamie related a story about how his company handles problem reports that they find via twitter and I was duly impressed. It's easy to brush off the fact that a healthcare organization might be concerned about customer support but the fact is there a lease trying to understand social networking and have allocated the necessary resources in their organization to respond accordingly. Whether this remains a long-term part of their offerings certainly remains to be seen because some of these social networking systems may eventually dissolve into the ether, but it's encouraging to know that they get it now and feel that it's a communication system important enough to monitor regularly.

Now, if only CitiMortgage would get it,too.

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