Technical Support Via Twitter / Facebook

Getting technical support can be one of the most frustrating things on earth, and I know because I *AM* technical support for hundreds of clients. I know how difficult things can be when things aren’t working.

As an IT guy, when my client’s internet goes down, I’m their first line of defense. They call me, I check a few things, and if I can’t figure it out, I call the internet service provider. Comcast, or Verizon, for example. If they’re having an outage  chances are I’m one of dozens, or possibly hundreds of other people calling in. This increased call volume translates into longer hold times. It can long periods of time, which I’m charging my clients for. I realize how frustrating it is to be losing productivity due to services being down, only to be charged by the IT Guy who sits on the phone, and is eventually told in just a few words that “yes, the service is down, and will be for a couple hours”. Not only can you not use your internet, send email, or use your phones, and thus not MAKE money, but you just paid me to confirm that there’s nothing we can do right now.

Social media has been evolving in the last few years, I’ve noticed. Facebook and Twitter were always a place for people to go and goof off on the internet, and employers recognized that. Many times I’ve been asked to block these sites on a corporate level. This is changing quickly however.

With the recent visit from hurricane Sandy, many of our clients were without internet or power. Their businesses shut down for days. No email, due to their server being in their office without power to prevent from dirty shut downs and power spikes.

We use a service from McAfee called MXLogic, which filters spam, and then delivers email to the client’s servers. Because all mail filters through them before going to the server, if the server down, the mail spools with them. They offered to our clients a service called “email continuity.” Since they had many of our clients’ emails, our clients could log into their site, and read emails there from home. Business could continue to a degree.

But how to tell our clients?? Can’t email them! Can’t call them unless we have alternative numbers for them. Home or cell, etc… Chances are that they’re not going to come to our professional website… But you can bet they will check their twitter or Facebook pages!

We were told many times once business came back up, “I wish I knew you had a Facebook page, I’d have seen that offer, and taken you up on it!” Let’s face it, everyone is looking at Facebook. Why would we not put information they might want to see where they’re looking??

I once tweeted about a problem that I had with Comcast, when I was new to twitter, and trying to figure out what it was for. I decided to try venting there… Lo and Behold, @comcastcares replied to my tweet within minutes. Problem was rectified shortly thereafter, after having sat on the phone trying to get something done for over an hour.

I decided to try tweeting the next time I had a Comcast issue. Once again, a ticket that would have cost me at least forty minutes on the phone was handled in two or three tweets.

Once sitting on the phone with Broadview, a common ISP around here, hoping to find out of they were experiencing an outage  I decided to head over to twitter and do a search for “Broadview outage . There was no official twitter profile for them at the time, but there were dozens of other folks tweeting to vent about problems with their ISP and “is broadview down right now??” … As close to confirmation as I needed, and again, in only four minutes.

Since I started this post as a matter of fact, I tweeted @microsofthelps about a problem I’m having with my windows live account… Now… I’ve tried off and on for the last couple of days to unblock my windows live account to no avail. Since starting this blog post, I’ve already gotten my ticket created with support and elevated past the usual “reset your password” solutions… By the time I’m finished, maybe my problem will be fixed entirely!

Sure there are dangers to opening your doors to things like Facebook and twitter on a corporate level, from loss of productivity to viruses and malware, but don’t rule it out without some thought. Just because bad information is there, doesn’t mean there isn’t good…

The next time you’re having problems with something technical, computer issues, hardware issues, even problems with your household appliances, take a look on twitter, see if the manufacturer has a twitter profile. It’s a low risk investment, all you need is a twitter account and about five minutes to tweet at them.

No phone queues, no “press 1 for English”, no barely understandable technical support folks… Quick, to the point questions, succinct answers in plain English. (or whatever language you tweet in.)

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4 thoughts on “Technical Support Via Twitter / Facebook

  1. From what I’ve read prior to this, companies in the service industry are constantly monitoring Twitter and FB for complaints. The article I read was specifically about hotels and cited them as an example of the larger trend. It’s amazing what happens when bad publicity is mass communicated.

  2. I’ve had a couple good tech support tweets, and a few more customer service tweets when I’ve griped about something. I think the lack of a voice to listen to is a good trade-off for being on hold for seventy-five years, although sometimes I really do want to TALK to a person.

    Regardless, companies shouldn’t ignore social media as another form of service and support. My fear is that it won’t be long before the marketing departments take over like they did for e-mail, nntp, and websites.

  3. Ummm… how can I check my tweets if I have no inter-tubes?

    The point is moot for me, though, since I live in a small town and my ISP is local. My calls are answered NLT the second ring and I’m immediately either confirmed (e.g., “Yes, we’re down… there was a cable cut”) or transferred to a real live tech support guy.

    • There certainly is something to be said for the small business model! I miss calling utility companies and getting a human on the first call. So unusual these days.

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