Zendesk Has a Twicket to Ride Twitter

Score another one for Twitter. Like Facebook and Google, the San Francisco-based microblogging service has ingrained itself into so many corners of the Internet that other companies are altering their strategies, and their vocabularies, to accommodate it.

The latest example: Zendesk, the provider of Web-based customer support software, today introduced a new feature allowing companies to turn tweets into help tickets—dubbed, of course, “twickets.” Once a customer’s tweet has been made into a twicket, Zendesk’s software will record the entire Twitter conversation, in effect turning Twitter into a new channel for customer support and engagement.

“We decided that innovation will not come from creating whole new channels of social support [for customers] but by making existing ones business-relevant,” says Maksim Ovsyannikov, vice president of product management at the San Francisco-based startup. “Without any integration or any need to modify your workflow or the Twitter client you’re using, be it Hootsuite or Tweetdeck or Twitter.com, you can natively turn a tweet into a ticket and then basically hit this ‘record button’ between you as a company and the individual who has a question or is submitting feedback.”

After several months in beta testing, the new Twitter features are now available to all 5,000-plus companies using Zendesk, who pay anywhere from $9 per month to $59 per month for access to the company’s system for collecting and tracking complaints and help requests.

Zendesk is portraying the new feature as a way for businesses to tame Twitter, which is normally a cacophony of random comments, replies, and retweets—but, for better or worse, is also the forum where an increasing number of people turn first to voice comments or complaints about companies and their products and services.

“Being able to connect the twittersphere with your current customer service workflow is something we believe will change a lot of companies’ perception of Twitter,” writes CEO Mikkel Svane in a blog post today. “A chaotic cloud of shouts and conversations can become the foundation of a new business process; one ensuring participation and clear and timely communications.”

Zendesk pulls tweets into its tracking system using a little-known Twitter feature called favorites. Originally intended as a way to allow regular Twitter users to mark and collect specific tweets in a favorites folder, the favorite function is the only way available through Twitter’s public application programming interface for third-party software makers to … Next Page »

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Wade Roush is a freelance science and technology journalist and the producer and host of the podcast Soonish. Follow @soonishpodcast

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