Zendesk Exec Says Best Use of Twitter is for Listening to Customers

The benefit of Twitter is that it helps companies to reach the customers in ways that they wouldn’t normally.

That was one of the takeaways on Thursday from TWTRCON, a one-day conference in San Francisco that focused on the business use of Twitter and other real-time tools.

Maksim Ovsyannikov, vice president of product management at VC-backed Zendesk, said that its social media services are the best way for its companies to hear what customers have to say.

“You don’t earn reputation by talking. You earn reputation by listening,” Ovsyannikov said.

Just yesterday, Zendesk, which has raised more than $6 million from Benchmark Capital and Charles River Ventures to provide online help desk systems, announced that “Zendesk for Twitter” now allows customer support agents to navigate Twitter posts from within the Zendesk interface. The integration makes it easier for Zendesk customers to put Twitter to work for their business, according to the company.

“You have to listen to the customers on the channels that the customers are talking to you on,” Ovsyannikov said. “If you can show that your customer satisfaction can increase as a result of using social media, then that’s a big win for any company.

That sentiment was echoed by Scott Monty, head of social media for Ford Motor Co. “I believe people would rather have a conversation with a person rather than a brand,” Monty said during his keynote address.

Ovsyannikov had one final bit of advice for the more than 500 attendees of TWTRCON: Don’t get the marketing team involved in the social media efforts of your company. At least not right away.