Social Media Trend: How Twitter Menaces Call Centers

If you were planning a career in the exciting world of call centers think again. Yesterday's experience rebooking a volcano-delayed flight convinced me that in the future Twitter is going to take a large slice of this business.

With rolling cancellations of flights over a period of several days airlines have been faced with thousands of callers trying to rebook their flights. Call centers and website collapsed under the strain. I know because I was trying to rebook a KLM flight.

Checking the Twitter account for information I also noticed that they regularly tweeted a message inviting people who had this difficulty to rebook through Twitter. That's right, not just information but also services.

The way it worked was very simple. You just tweet to @KLM that you want to rebook and first they follow you, then they invite you to send your details by direct message. A few minutes later you receive another direct message confirming the re-booking.

If you think about it this is good news for everyone. It is faster and cheaper for the airlines and it is faster, more convenient for the users. Still not convinced? Here's the clincher: I noticed yesterday that many people were obviously signing up for a Twitter account just to rebook a flight. There were many users with just one tweet and one follower (@KLM). This is a killer app that brings new users into the Twitter world with a practical and probably essential service that helps them get home.

Call centers will still be needed for extra tricky problems and for people without access to Twitter, but it is easy to imagine when this will be the default support line for most businesses, and if you are not yet using your Twitter account effectively it is time to start.

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