There has been a lot of talk about Twitter's potential as a medium for customer service over the years, but there has also been a lot of skepticism because of Twitter's limitations. Beyond the fact that tweets can contain only 140 characters, there are other inconveniences, such as a lack of threaded conversations.

But Zendesk, the maker of a popular web-based help desk solution, wants its customers, which include companies like Rackspace, Groupon, SAP and even Twitter itself, to be able to use Twitter if they'd like.

Yesterday, it announced a number of Twitter integration points:

With just one click you can transform a tweet into a Zendesk ticket - and turn Twitter into your new channel for customer engagement. Capture relevant input and "wow" your Twitter community with exceptional responsiveness.

Zendesk's 'twickets' make it easier for companies and their customer support teams to keep track of customer service 'conversations' that take place on Twitter. The integration between Zendesk and Twitter is close to seamless; once a twicket is created, it's no different than any other ticket in the Zendesk system. It can be assigned to other customer service reps and departments, and public responses will automatically be sent out via Twitter. In an effort to address Twitter's 140 character limit, Zendesk provides a way for customer service representatives to tweet a link that moves the conversation off of Twitter and onto Zendesk.

One of the most important points about Zendesk's integration with Twitter is the fact that Zendesk customers can continue to use their preferred Twitter clients. Zendesk takes advantage of Twitter's 'favorites' feature to identify the tweets that its customers want to bring into Zendesk.

All in all, Zendesk looks like a pretty compelling customer service solution for Twitter. But does that necessarily mean that Twitter is a great channel for customer service? Of course not. Even with some of Twitter's technical limitations out of the way, companies should still be strategic when it comes to when, where and how they interact with consumers for customer service because once expectations are set, they're hard to eliminate. That means that brands that do look to Twitter as a customer service channel should be committed to supporting it. And committment is something no tool can offer.

Photo credit: respres via Flickr.

Patricio Robles

Published 14 July, 2010 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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Comments (1)

Guy Stephens

Guy Stephens, Social Customer Care Consultant at IBM Interactive Experience/GBS/Mobile

Interesting article as always from Pablo. There's a lot going on in the customer service space, and ZenDesk is certainly doing its bit to help keep the momentum of the discussion going. The addition of 'twickets' (hmmm?!) is an interesting one. I think, however, we need to stop using the technology or tools of the trade to represent the trade itself. ZenDesk simply facilitates the provision of the customer service experience, as does Twitter, but they are, in and of themselves, not the reason why a particular company's customer service is good, bad or ugly. That is down to the thinking that lies behind how a company provides it's customer service. And indeed, at a time when the customer experience is almost more important now than the actual service now, the thinking, planning and culture of a company become key elements in determining the type of customer engagement a company wishes to provide. 

Commentators often see the 140 character nature of Twitter as a limitation. I'm not one of those. Twitter is what it is, whether it is 140 characters, 273 or 1045 characters is irrelevant. It's how it is understood and used that is important. Let's focus on the positives of Twitter and the other rich variety of tools now available to companies to engage with their customers. Twitter's beauty is its simplicity. It gets straight to the point of the matter and in this way enables companies to identify an issue, the resolution takes place elsewhere. Twitter was not designed as a workflow, it was not designed as a customer service tool, so let's not impose these later requirements on it. Twitter is simply a platform, how it is used is up to each one of us. 

about 8 years ago

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