Twitter for tech support and customer service

So I was teaching a class this morning at another building on campus. Unfortunately the provided computer I was using was having network issues.  While we waited on the IT guys for the building to come in, I took the following picture with my phone and sent it to twitpic, which then sent the tweet to twitter.

Here’s what I posted on twitter with my phone:

Click to go to twitter page
Click to go to twitter page

Within 1 minute of sending that text to TwitPic, I got a text message from one of our system administrators at the library.  He asked me what room I was in, and if I needed help.  I replied that I was outside his territory, as I was in another campus building, not the library.  Although he could not help me, it was amazing that he could respond so quickly.

There are a few things here that made this work.  First, we have IT folks who get it.  Seriously, our library IT department is top notch in a lot of ways.  They’re willing to try new things such as twitter,  if only simply to see how they work and how they might be used.  Secondly, my colleague happened to be following me on twitter, and I also follow him.  If he had not been following me, he would not have seen the text at all.  Third, he happened to refresh the twitter page, and there I was.  Finally, he knew my cell number, so he was able to send me a text message.  He could have also sent me a direct message in twitter, but he had no way of knowing that I get direct messages via text messages on my phone, so a text message was the guaranteed way of asking me if I needed help.

While there are definitely some hoops to jump through, I can definitely see how an organization could use this for technical support or other kinds of immediate assistance.  (This also assumes we don’t see the twitter fail whale).  All of my colleagues in my department are on twitter, although some use it a lot more frequently (@cguder, @lolebek, @hagman) than others.  With the ability to extend twitter with pictures via TwitPic, with video via 12Seconds, and with SMS, twitter has the potential for being a very robust communication tool.