Social media dashboard service Hootsuite is trying to change the way customers interact with support representatives, and it's using the social network that made it a star to do it.
Hootsuite, which this week raised $60 million in venture capital, announced a service on Thursday that allows companies to respond to tweeted customer support requests with a link to a phone number or Skype username that only the recipient can access.
Josh Holmes, the CEO of Hootsuite, bought Zeetl, the company that developed the technology, and soon began testing it with his employees. The New York Times reports that Hootsuite "intends to offer it more widely very soon." The idea is that companies that use Hootsuite to manage their social media presences will use this new feature to improve their communications with their customers.
Companies have been using Twitter for customer support for years, but until now, these chatty social media help desks either answered questions in 140 characters or provided links to relevant support articles. To actually speak to a live representative, you had to take your chances with the main helpline. Customer support agents are generally not permitted to provide their direct phone numbers to customers, a request that people often make on Twitter.
@cpt_staners123 I'm afraid we cannot DM for security reasons, and we would not have a direct line you can contact a specific agent on. ^ZR— Virgin Media (@virginmedia) September 24, 2014
@TarverLawGroup We do not have a direct line. However, you can send us a DM so that we may assist you further. *SZK— VZW Support (@VZWSupport) July 30, 2014
@PJhayes88 There is no direct line to reach our group specifically. You may call 1-800-REGIONS or DM your phone number for assistance. ^AP— Regions Bank (@askRegions) August 11, 2014
@RyanLutton Hi Ryan, Sorry we do not have a direct line. Can you please follow and send a DM with your Mother's number? Thanks— EE (@EE) August 29, 2014
@onmy6 unfortunately there is no direct line, was there something we can help you with? I have followed you if you would like to DM us- Mike— Australia Post (@auspost) September 16, 2014
"We know at the end of the day, customers want an easy-to-use experience, whether they are an individual or enterprise user," said Holmes, who called most corporate support software "kludgy."
The new feature fits into Hootsuite's overall strategy of being, as the Times puts it, "easy enough for an individual user to figure out, but robust enough for a big company’s social media team."
Photo via Rosaura Ochoa/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)