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How IT Can Embrace Twitter to Engage—and Better Serve—Modern Users

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twitterblogRecently Domino’s Pizza® invited hungry fans to order pizza by tweeting @Dominos with a pizza emoji. Why? Because Domino’s wants to sell pizza to the 304 million monthly users active on the Twitter® network. Domino’s is engaging with its young, pizza-loving target demographic by using one of its favorite and most frequented social channels. Are you paying attention, IT? Modern technology users have welcomed “Buy” buttons, customer service handles, and other ways of conducting business on Twitter. They’re likely ready to communicate and find solutions to their IT issues there, as well.   Tweet this: Are you using Twitter the right way to effectively engage with your customers?

Current State of Social for IT

To date, IT organizations have used traditional contact channels—namely phone, email and self-service portals—to communicate and engage with their users. If anything, social media has been used to push out information. But it’s rarely been used as a means of receiving it. Evidence suggests, however, that the use of social media as a contact channel for IT is on the rise. According to a recent HDI Practices and Salary Report on support centers, 6% of IT organizations use social media as a contact channel today, up from 2.4% in 2011. This is a positive sign that IT organizations are using channels that their users prefer, even if it means taking to a public social media platform like Twitter.

The Benefits of Twitter for IT

The integration of Twitter with ITSM tools offers improvements to IT-business engagement in several areas.

  1. Allow users to notify IT of issues and/or request IT services: Many students currently use the app, Blackboard®, to access syllabi, notes, study guides and see grades, all in one place. But let’s say a student needs to notify IT of an issue with Blackboard. With proper integration between the ITSM tool and Twitter, an “@” mention of the IT department to raise the issue, along with #blackboard, could provide enough information to automatically open an incident record, which starts the troubleshooting/triage process. IT could even automate the sending of a response via direct message to the student with an incident record number.
  2. Use Twitter to broadcast relevant and timely information: There is an issue with a critical app, and the IT department wants to send a communication to notify its workforce, along with the resolution time frame. Using Twitter works to prevent more employees from sending in related requests. When the issue is resolved, IT can notify users again via Twitter. IT can also use this mechanism to push out knowledge articles, how-to videos and planned downtime announcements.
  3. Crowd source and broadcast problem resolutions: A worker has a question about how to accomplish a particular task and tweets it to IT. Another users sees the Tweet and responds before the IT department does, providing a resolution that others also see, potentially saving future calls to the service desk. And even if IT still needs to resolve the issue, by tweeting back a link to a tutorial or knowledgebase article, the resolution can benefit many other users using that channel. This knowledge sharing can shift some of the burden away from the busy IT team, and create a more self-sufficient community of users.

Tweet this: How IT-business engagement can be improved by integrating Twitter with ITSM tools

The Need for Training

As easy as Twitter is to use, there should be an appropriate level of end-user education and limitations around what is and is not appropriate to request on the public domain, as well as guidelines for how IT should interact with users. For example, if a user has unusual or difficult issues, they should be instructed to call the service desk. Finally, users need to know exactly what hashtag(s) to use when they want to communicate with their IT service desk via Twitter. For IT staff, there needs to be guidance around grammar and tone that’s appropriate to use on public channels. In addition, there is a need for standards around timeliness of response, which is why ITSM tool integration is important. The ability to automatically open a ticket based on a specific hashtag is a much better approach than having your IT team glued to Twitter when you want them solving problems.

Get Started and Innovate

How well would Twitter integrate with your ITSM tool, and what kind of benefits would it bring to your service desk? Some industries such as higher education and retail are particularly well-suited for adoption, while financial services, public sector agencies, and healthcare might be less so due to strict information security policies and potential branding or PR concerns. But innovation can happen anywhere. Twitter will only increase in its volume of active users. And its presence provides an opportunity to cut down on manual ticketing, involve a larger community in solving technical issues, and satisfy today’s users who want to communicate through their preferred social channels. Why not use it to your advantage?