Hornbill Service Management is harnessing Twitter to discover, communicate and resolve IT service delivery problems.
The company has integrated Twitter and smartphone-based support into the latest version of its Supportworks ITSM Enterprise product.
"This is a natural extension of how people choose to interact with the service desk," says Patrick Bolger, chief evangelist at Hornbill.
In addition to phone and e-mail, staff will be able to choose Twitter as a way of interacting with the service desk to report and resolve problems, he says. By opting in, they accept the channel will be monitored for service desk-related keywords.
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"As a service provider of any type, you have to be switched on to the channels of communication your customers prefer to use," Patrick Bolger says.
This means IT departments will be able to improve service delivery by proactively identifying and responding to service issues that often fail to surface in traditional communication channels, says Bolger.
"We are increasingly seeing examples where users air their frustrations via social media channels long before contacting the service desk," he said.
Social media monitoring will enable support teams to discover, react to and resolve issues that may otherwise have gone unreported and allowed to fester and damage the reputation of the support team, says Bolger.
According to Peter O'Neill, principal analyst at Forrester Research, the use of social media continues to grow among business professionals in all departments, which has changed the way they interact with suppliers.
Peter O'Neill's research has shown that business professionals tend to turn to online search engines rather than the IT service desk as their first point of call.
Hornbill has also updated the mobile web client for iPhone, Blackberry and Android devices to enable support staff on the move to log, update and resolve requests as well as authorise and update tasks without having to enter large amounts of text.
"People in the field can send an SOS tweet from their smartphones, for example, and instantly get back a link to documentation that will help resolve their problem," says Bolger.
The mobile and social channels also provide efficient ways for the service desk to broadcast service updates such as news of a VPN outage, he says.
Oliver Holmes, service manager at London Metropolitan University says Hornbill's support works has made it easier to support 25,000 students, many of whom use social media as their main communication channel.
Oliver Holmes claims improved productivity and service since deploying the product. Holmes says his next goal is to reduce the number of calls and improve the perception of the support team, which requires insight into problems before they reach the service desk.
"This is where the new social media integration will play a central role," he says.
Bolger says the ability to discover, react and resolve issues through social media will radically improve the service that IT can offer.