Parature 'Friends' Customer Service With Facebook - InformationWeek

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5/5/2010
10:49 AM
Eric Ogren
Eric Ogren
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Parature 'Friends' Customer Service With Facebook

With tools such as Facebook and Twitter at the disposal of consumers, companies and brands have more work on their hands than ever before to monitor and respond to complaints. Parature's newest Facebook tool brings the power of customer service to social media.

With tools such as Facebook and Twitter at the disposal of consumers, companies and brands have more work on their hands than ever before to monitor and respond to complaints. Parature's newest Facebook tool brings the power of customer service to social media.Last week I attended a conference in Orlando. During the course of my stay, I was disappointed with the conference hotel's selection of soda beverages. I am a Coke drinker. I don't like Pepsi products (sorry, Pepsi, I just don't). The hotel only offered Pepsi products. The one Pepsi product I'll allow to pass my lips is Mountain Dew. Alas, Mountain Dew wasn't available, either. For whatever reason, I fired off a Tweet about it, making it clear that no Mountain Dew = unhappy me. Just another silly Tweet, right? No, not at all.

Ten hours later, I returned to my hotel room. To my surprise, sitting on the desk in my hotel room was a bucket full of Mountain Dew. Even though I used no hash tags, no "@" symbols or any other way to flag the name of the hotel, the hotel's front desk staff saw the Tweet, discovered that I was a guest, discerned my room number, and took it upon themselves to deliver me what I wanted -- all behind the scenes and unbeknownst to me.

That's customer service.

This is exactly what Parature is all about. "Parature is focused on customer service. We enable companies to provide better support to their own customers at a lower cost through web sites such as Facebook," said Tim Davenport, CEO of Parature. Today Parature launched a new feature for Facebook that incorporates a support tab, making it even easier for customers to reach out for help when needed.

"Social media and customer service are colliding," said Davenport. "Trying to manage them is a very manual process and companies have trouble doing it effectively. They have to look at the fan page all day, every day, and answer questions about random products or part numbers and then react to that."

Facebook has 400 million users. Those users don't just connect with friends. More and more users are becoming "fans" of brands and products and then using those fan pages to ask for help. Parature's software can be set up to monitor Facebook wall posts and flag comments for follow-up. The customer support tab that is being offered by Parature allows customers a more official way to reach out to companies and have their questions answered. Parature for Facebook can go so far as to enable real-time chats between customer service reps and customers, and even initiate trouble tickets to escalate when necessary.

Rosetta Stone is one of the first to jump on board with Parature and its new service offering. "We saw the trends in social media and decided we had to act," said Jay Topper, SVP of Customer Service for Rosetta Stone. "My department is new in the company and is a perfect match to what Parature offers. We imagine a world where anyone can learn a new language. We look at social media such as Facebook and Twitter as a 24/7/365 focus group that we can monitor and help provide support. People have questions, this helps us deliver answers. We immediately respond to requests and complaints."

Rosetta Stone believes that the new tools offered by Facebook and Parature let it provide the instantaneous reactive support that's necessary it today's social media world. "For us, we have thousands of fans on our Facebook page. It is cricital to have the support tab on top from Parature. We try to answer Facebook queries within an hour, and Tweets faster," noted Topper.

The personal example I noted above ties directly into what Parature hopes to provide. "We can monitor tweets and retweets, which are auto-pulled into Parature's software," said Cindy Cruzado, VP of product management at Parature. "Support teams receive messages and can feed back into Twitter to respond to customer complaints. Often times, it's the fast reaction that customers are looking for. The speed and attitude of the response is often more important than the ability to resolve the actual issue at hand."

So far, Rosetta Stone is pleased with the new tools offered by Parature. "On Rosetta Stone's Facebook page, we were happy that 90% of the comments were positive," said Rosetta Stone's Topper. "But then we realized that those 10% of negative comments represents a lot of people. We wanted a way to interact with that 10% and make their experience better. Parature lets us do that."

According to Parature, it's software is in beta trails right now, and will become widely available on June.

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