Skipping the support ticket at Mozy

Can social media take you out of the support queue and straight to an answer?

Last week, I launched an investigation into how social media is being used in customer service and technical support. I have been talking with all sorts of people about how they are harnessing the power of these tools to reach out to customers before those customers hit the support phones. Some of these initiatives are only a few months old, so these conversations have been a lot of fun.

Last week, I spoke to Dave Robinson of Mozy.com, the online backup company. He tells me that Mozy loves using social media to reach out to customers. His team likes Twitter at the moment, but if another tool pulls in a lot of people, Mozy will follow.

"The team here has grown up with this social media stuff," says Robinson. "So using it in customer service has come naturally to us. We all use Twitter. So we noticed that a lot of people bring problems to the Twitter community first. They will say, 'I'm having a problem. Can anyone help?' So it made sense to us that we should reach out to those people and make sure someone helps them."

Implementing social media outreach was simple. "There is a guy on my team who is our social media guy because he is a power user," says Robinson. "He uses TweetDeck to monitor comments coming through about Mozy, and he can reach out fairly quickly to anyone who asks for help that way."

In fact, for problems that have a quick answer, Twitter is probably faster than going a more traditional support route. "I would say that Twitter is probably the fastest way to get a response," says Robinson. "We have roughly a million customers, so we get a decent volume of support requests on a regular basis. We try to get back to people within 12 or 24 hours, but because of the immediacy of Twitter, it is perfectly reasonable to go there first."

And what did it cost you to ask for help this way? An hour on hold? Thirty minutes describing your problem in e-mail? Twenty minutes waiting for a chat? Nope. It took only as much time as it takes to type 140 characters, and you are back to your own to-do list.

As with most companies embracing social media, you don't have to find the right person to send a message to or look up the right Twitter ID of the social media master at the company you are trying to reach. Just use the company name (spell it right) in your Twitter cry for help. Mozy -- or any company you are trying to reach -- follows those, and someone will probably find you. This is also a quick way to find out if a company has embraced social media, because you will get nothing but crickets from companies who have not yet noticed this phenomenon.

I'll be talking to more companies in the coming weeks about how they use social media to reach customers. So stay tuned.

Meanwhile, got gripes? Send them to christina_tynan-wood@infoworld.com. Or follow me on Twitter.

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