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Listening to every Tweet up in the Clouds

4

I attended the 140 | Twitter Conference in LA a couple of weeks ago, hosted by the Parnassus Group. The purpose was to bring the Twitter community together – novice and experienced – to discuss how they are using Twitter, what it means for your brand, best practices and tools and what we believe the future of Twitter will be.

There were many high profile individuals there that avidly use Twitter including – Levar Burton, Tony Hawk, Tyrese Gibson, Dr. Drew, Guy Kawasaki among others. Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter and motivational speaker, Tony Robbins, did the Keynotes. And yes, we had a guest appearance from Pee Wee Herman himself and witnessed his first Tweet.

Twitter has opened a whole new avenue of communication between businesses and their clients. The Rackspace Cloud has been an early adopter of Twitter and we continue to utilize this platform to listen to what our customers are saying as well as share useful information with our followers.

Many large companies are utilizing Twitter – Best Buy, Starbucks, Southwest Airlines. Unlike these companies, you cannot walk into your nearest Rackspace office and speak to a rep in person (although if you were in San Antonio, you could). Rackspace, from the beginning, wanted to change the “accepted” way customer service was being done in this industry. We have made ourselves easily and always accessible – and the experience should always be fanatical. We have long-term personal relationships with our customers and we don’t even meet most of them in person! Twitter has allowed us to engage with customers at an exponential level.

When using @rackcloud, here are a few rules of thumb we follow:

· Be Real We are a unique group of individuals with lots of different interests, talents, and quirks. We are not afraid to show them.

· Be Transparent – Do not be afraid to engage customers directly, honestly, and openly.

· Engage – We believe Twitter is a 2-way communication channel, not a one way.

· Highlight customers, and their experiences– This is really what it’s about.

· Share valuable information – Not just about us but industry related information that’s useful & helpful.

As we grow, more and more clients are talking about us on Twitter – mostly brand and product related but there are times when a customer tweets about a technical issue. We offer 24/7 live chat, phone and email support and it is very important that customers utilize these channels of communication for both security purposes and to ensure a timely response for their particular support needs.

The most important key elements are #1 Set Expectations – While Twitter is a great tool to listen to clients, it is not a substitute for a technical support channel, #2 Always publicly respond- We are listening and it’s important that the community knows we are listening and genuinely care.

You may have read the recent post from Chris Brogan – it’s a great justification that what we do works.

About the Author

This is a post written and contributed by Angela Bartels.

Angela runs integrated marketing campaigns for Rackspace. She started at Rackspace in 2003 and has done everything from Linux support, account management, sales, product marketing and now lives in marketing. She left Rackspace in 2005 to work for PEER 1 Hosting but returned in 2009 because she was interested in the cloud computing movement (and has always been a Racker at heart). Angela is a strong believer in the power of storytelling.


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4 Comments

Great post and I can vouch, like Chris Brogan, for the immediate attention a tweet to @rackcloud gets. I actually hated to make the tweet to @rackcloud, as I wanted to use the normal modes of support to get an answer to my question. Unfortunately, the normal modes have failed me twice now in the last couple months. First time was a support ticket generated from a live chat. Didn’t get the response to the support ticket for nearly 2 weeks, and when I got it it wasn’t even for my site. It was some other clients site with a similar issue. Second failure was this week when I submitted a ticket via email asking about all of the degraded performance issues on the db cluster. 2 days later and I still hadn’t heard back, plus there had been more failures. That is when I resorted to twitter to get a response. When the normal channels for support begin to fail, but public tweets get immediate response, you are going to see more of your clients choose twitter over an email/chat to support. I can’t imagine that is an ideal operational mode for Rackspace.

avatar Nathan Goff on October 10, 2009 | Reply

So, is this the recommended way to get support from RackspaceCloud now?

It seems that the “normal” channels don’t work too well.

I have been hosting with Mosso / RackSpaceCloud for about 18 months. The first 12 months went pretty smoothly, but the RSC has become completely unreliable for the past 2-3 months.

To be fair, a lot of the down time was due to one single issue, but overall, our company’s site was down for about 20 days last month (!). Yes, just about the entire MONTH.

I contacted support daily about it, but they had a very, very hard time getting and keeping the site up.

I guess I was supposed to have tweeted about it.

Well, I’m tweeting now!

Anyway, it was finally fixed about a week ago, and I thought it would be fine until I move to a dedicated server (and get OFF the cloud!).

No such luck.

The site has been down 3 MORE times in just the past week. The issues range from “connectivity” to security to failing “nodes” (whatever that means).

The support team is fast… to respond. However, getting actual resolution is a completely different story.

avatar Mark on October 10, 2009 | Reply

You can continue. I don’t mind.

avatar Emily Pasca on October 11, 2009 | Reply

Mark & Peter:

Thank you for your comments. I apologize for the issues you experienced & difficulty contacting our support team. Although we are listening on Twitter and other social media platforms, it’s definitely not a substitute for support. Sometimes customers may use these platforms to talk about an issue they’re having because they are unaware of how to contact us.

We strongly suggest you continue to utilize email, chat and phone. You will receive faster resolution using these communication channels. We may be quick to respond on Twitter but we cannot resolve your actual issue, our support team can.

Each issue is different and again I apologize for the delay in response.

If you’d like to do discuss further, you can reach me at angela.bartels@rackspace.com.

Thanks,
Angela
@rackcloud

avatar Angela Bartels [Racker] on October 14, 2009 | Reply

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