Here's a story that extols the power of Twitter as a technical-support tool. More importantly, it demonstrates how a large company, Comcast, found its customers in a social-media venue—and responded to them.

Neville Hobson, in a post on Social Media Today, discusses the Twitter-centric customer-service operation at Comcast. Twitter hasn't replaced the telephone or email at Comcast technical support, he writes. Instead, it's being used as an additional tool that adds immediacy and informality to the delicate but supremely important business of customer care.  

Twitter "has changed the culture of our company," Brian Roberts, CEO of Comcast, is quoted as saying at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco. Roberts was referring to the customer-service operation started by Frank Eliason, Senior Director of National Customer Service at Comcast, and known on Twitter as @comcastcares.

Eliason has been using Twitter to successfully field customer-service complaints since March 2008. With diligence and consistency, he has grown his operation to a staff of eleven. The idea, Roberts described at the conference, didn't come from Comcast; it was uncovered when the company realized that unhappy customers were publicly complaining about Comcast on Twitter.

Now, Roberts characterizes the Twitter interaction as an "entirely different kind of dialogue rather than just the typical telephone complaints." The company is also using other social-media venues, including Facebook, to engage with customers.

Those customers are people "who understand what direct, unfiltered and honest engagement means," writes Hobson, "and [they] have the confidence, ability and senior-level support to put into action some change-making principles."

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