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Learning To Be A Twit

I've been through my share of help desk implementations over the years. I've sat in on a fair number of process improvement teams, and have either helped to ring in new ways of doing things or suffered through other people's ideas of what network and customer support should feel like. It's just part of the game when you work in IT and you care about helping to keep the organization at the top of its support game. So why was was I taken aback when I found out that users were tweeting their beefs with my network to anyone within Twittershot? Why was I floored to learn how many companies have adopted social media as part of their support structure? How did I miss the moving of the cheese, and what rock have I been living under?

Perhaps it has always been this way, but it is a bit sobering to find that you're not as hip as you think you are. And that goes double for being on a support team that some clients are end-arounding in the name of doing things in new and progressive ways, while you continue to try to sharpen the same old way of doing business with blissful ignorance. A couple of months back, a colleague emailed me a couple of tweets regarding user perception of network issues, and I was insulted. My senses reeled, and I reacted from the gut. After all, here was a couple of terse sentences laced with some salty language that impugned the network, and I felt like I had to protect my network from attack as I might protect my kids. These upstart clients didn't fill out a support template, and they dared to use mobile devices and social media to cry out for support!

After I ranted back at my co-worker about not being overly interested in hearing the petty squawks of clients that couldn't be bothered to fill out a proper support request, I turned my attention to the voice in my head. It said, "Uh, pal--you're not too quick on the uptake here, are you? You are the master of mobility, the god of wireless. Yet you throw a hissy-fit when clients actually use the culture you've created to let you know they may have a problem." Having been burned in the past by ignoring such voices, I got wise real quick this time.

Amplifying the message, I recently went to an IT service management conference that built on the notion, and I found myself hyper-sensitive to it. A significant number of big-name companies are using Twitter and Facebook pages to reach out to customers and to provide new support conduits for users who want their support to be as mobile as the rest of their lifestyles. Ford, Comcast, Home Depot and many others have jumped on the bandwagon with Twitter feeds and Facebook fan pages. Customers can follow product and support developments and make their concerns heard at their convenience, and what these companies are doing is just what my clients are evidently looking for.

Every journey starts with the first step. In my support organization, I have no idea yet on how we'll leverage the social media thing to augment our other support processes. I do know that we have no choice but to jump in. Some of my co-workers are casting unofficial nets toward clients using mobile apps. I've gotten into the Twitter game with support in mind, and am learning to field complaints and concerns and pass relevant information to the hundreds of followers among my thousands of wireless clients that seem to prefer this option. I'm very much still trying to get my head around what this all means, and I will also have to help my other long-time traditional network supporters to catch on. But catch on we must, or we risk obsolescence. Yeah, I can do this. I still got it ...