Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Customer Support 2.0

A few days ago I downloaded Firefox 3.0 RC1. I am very excited about this upcoming release. Firefox 3.0 performs *way* better than the previous versions and has some nice usability tweaks. That said I've also suffered a fair amount of instability since the move and Twittered my frustration to the public:


Unexpectedly after a while I got a response back from user "firefox_answers":


Now this is what I call Customer Support 2.0. I would have never actually logged a bug with Firefox nor would I have contacted them; Release Candidate or not. Most chances are that I would have just become a frustrated user. However, due to the fact that I was pro-actively engaged by folks watching Twitter not only would I most likely become a happy user but good chances that I would become a passionate user.

Note: I checked with the Firefox team and it seems that @firefox_answers does not originate from them so there must already be some passionate users out there who have taken this initiative. Just shows how passionate users will be the first to help your company succeed.

At Zend we do follow many of these types of media including Twitter and Blogs. While to my taste we still aren't pro-active enough in some areas there are several including Zend Framework where we've managed to more effectively engage the user base.

I believe no company today big or small can afford not to take a pro-active stance on customer care. Even Comcast has started figuring this out and has become pro-active on Twitter.

Here are some links to get you started:

- Technorati to watch the blogosphere

- Google Alerts to watch the more traditional Web (Web 1.0)

- Watch Twitter with Tweet Scan or Summize

In addition, make sure you encourage and empower your employees to engage in these types of conversations. I fully agree with James Governor that companies like IBM would be much better served if they participated more pro-actively in the conversation. Better to have glitches once in a while and lots of passionate users then to try and fully control (usually unsuccessfully) all corporate communications.

I am sure there are dozens of additional sites which help companies keep track of conversations related to them and their products. Please post additional pointers as comments to this post for the benefit of its readers.

Now go and create many passionate users by engaging them more pro-actively!