Back in February I decided to do a series of ’10 Questions with…’ posts. My first post was with Ben Gaines who helped make @OmnitureCare what it is today. Many of you know that Ben has moved on to a role in Product Management and so I thought who better to ask my next 10 questions to than Jorgen Sorensen, the new face of @OmnitureCare.
1. Were you a big Twitter user before you took this job?
JS: Not really – certainly not as much as you. Twitter and I had just become acquainted when I stepped into this role. Before I was asked to fill in for Ben Gaines during his vacation, I was newly scheduled on the overnight shift, helping our international users. Soon after starting the overnight shift, I was asked to begin monitoring Twitter during the wee hours of the morning. I hadn’t used Twitter at all before, so the first thing I did was buy a pile of books on the subject. (You can’t buy experience, but you can always learn from experts. If anything, I try to be well-read on the subject at hand.) Shortly thereafter, someone was needed to hold down the fort during Ben’s absence. Aside from a few weeks practice on a couple of private accounts, pretty much from the time I first said “Hello, world!” as OmnitureCare, I was a Twitter newbie. Mind you, I was not an Omniture newbie. I had a lot of experience supporting most Omniture technologies. But for me, during the first few weeks as the OmnitureCare stand-in, I was definitely learning Twitter on my feet.
2. What has been the biggest challenge in taking over OmnitureCare from Ben?
JS: The biggest challenge of all is the one that I hadn’t had practice in – the weight of officially representing the company. I’ve always had a passion for excellent customer service, and I was confident in my technical knowledge. Basically, every other part of the job had me very excited, but I was genuinely afraid of making public mistakes more than anything. (Though I’m not afraid to admit I’m wrong from time to time.) First of all I had to get past that hesitation, and learn to commit to send a response regardless. Nobody likes to take a chance on being wrong in a public forum. What made it less scary is, Twitter users in general are courteous, and everyone in the Omniture Twitter community is particularly helpful and kind. So the few mistakes I did make were completely forgiven.
3. I really enjoy how companies like Omniture, Comcast, and others have a specific personality to each of their Twitter accounts, was it talked about that OmnitureCare would always be a specific person or did it just happen?
JS: For a while, I was thinking about what I should pick for my own username – some kind of mash-up of my name and the company’s name like “OmnitureJorgen” or if that was taken, “RealOMTRJorgen.” (Okay, I’m just kidding about the latter.) Actually, from my perspective, the plan to have me take over for Ben by inheriting the OmnitureCare account happened spontaneously. In retrospect, I know that our management was probably weighing the costs and benefits of changing faces, I just wasn’t a key contributor to the debate surrounding the process of changeover. The benefits are pretty easy to enumerate. 2000. That’s how many followers (I think) OmnitureCare already had. Also, 10,000 (give or take). That’s how many Tweets Ben Gaines had already exchanged with users in the Omniture Twitter community over the course of two years. It amounts to a name that is as good as a brand for us. I really don’t know if it worked out this way by brilliant design or by fortuitous circumstance, but I know that choosing to have the account be a specific person was a really good idea.
4. The transition from Ben to you, from an outside perspective, was extremely smooth, why did it go so well?
JS: To me, the whole success should be attributed to Ben, and I know he did it because he cares a lot about the community of users we help to answer questions. On the one hand, Ben Gaines’ shoes are impossible to fill. He’s a trailblazer. Ben carved out the niche for this role, making tough decisions out of necessity that would shape Omniture’s unique Twitter support model. So there are many aspects of OmnitureCare I didn’t write the book on. For instance, in the Twitterverse, personality is incredibly important, and Ben had established his own personality as OmnitureCare, which no one can duplicate. Thankfully, I don’t need to, and it wouldn’t ring true if I tried. Ben made easy my stepping into this role; he’s a good mentor and friend. Actually, he’s more like a big brother who watched out for me until I hit my stride. I really appreciate his help because I know he’s also carrying the responsibilities of Product Management now.
5. What has been the biggest surprise since you became OmnitureCare?
JS: I can answer that without hesitation, it’s the sheer volume of issues needed to be responded to on a daily basis. But in the same breath I owe some people a sincere apology and acknowledgement that I dropped the ball more than once while learning to keep up. I’ve come face to face with the unpalatable truth, I’m not good at multitasking. When I first started tweeting, my goal was to remain on the phones or responding to incidents at least 50% of the time. That expectation was completely unrealistic – at least for the level of attention I expect to give to the users I’m supporting. I really don’t know if it was this way for Ben – possibly so – but for me, on those particularly busy days, I never stop working. If the job weren’t so incredibly satisfying I wouldn’t be able to keep it up. It’s an enormous task, but I don’t regret a minute. I only wish I could do more.
6. The role of Twitter support at Omniture is expanding, is it mainly based around geography?
JS: Let me point out that our Omniture users everywhere around the world are very important to us. We don’t want to have a closed mindset that Twitter coverage during the hours of 8-5 in U.S. Mountain Standard Time is good enough. In the past, our Twitter support wasn’t based around Geography, it was based on Ben Gaines’s commitment to make himself available at any time as best he could. That takes incredible dedication for a single support agent. Now, we’re two agents, (@OmnitureCare and @OmnitureFC) and our mandate is to actively assist the Omniture Twitter community from coast to coast, and then some. Currently, you can contact us via Twitter and get timely responses at least 12 hours a day. Eventually, one thing I hope we’ll be able to do is offer round-the-clock Twitter support.
As you may know, recently ClientCare opened support on weekends, becoming fully 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It used to be more difficult to get immediate attention if you’re one of those “late night project” kind of analysts who just wants to get a head start on a report for Monday. And we know that sometimes there’s a Weekend Only online sale, where unfortunately a last second implementation problem arises. I believe that what we need to do next is match our Twitter support to those ClientCare levels. It probably won’t come right away, because we’ll need to recruit more team members to make this possible. But I see it coming true someday a little further down the road.
7. How do you reach beyond your core followers on Twitter to let new Omniture customers know that you are there to offer assistance?
JS: The first step is a lot of listening. I try to make sure I tune in to the most common industry keywords, especially Omniture product names. Also every so often a keyword I hadn’t been searching for recurs in a lot of tweets, so I’ll sometimes organize a search for just that phrase. I’m looking for ways I can meaningfully contribute to existing conversations. I don’t think people want to be bombarded with unsolicited sales pitches, and I personally see it as a slippery slope from “Hi, I saw your tweet and I think I can help you,” to “I see you’re talking about something related to my company, may I interrupt you for a shameless promotion?” So, it requires a judgment call, deciding whether what I am thinking about saying would be welcomed by the other party, or not. I think for the most part the people I reach out to appreciate the contact.
The group of more experienced users are terrific at helping to answer questions, too. In fact, they can provide a perspective that I haven’t had; I do mostly troubleshooting, where something isn’t working properly, but I’ve never been in the analyst’s chair. (At least not exclusively.) And I haven’t done any full-scale web development. So it’s really valuable to cultivate a peer to peer help environment that is a unique alternative to calls, chats and emails. OmnitureCare Twitter support helps supplement those other support channels because it’s an open room. You can shout out your question or your problem, and engage the help of every expert who overhears and has information to add. Or if you need to bring me a problem with sensitive proprietary information, I can work with you via Direct Message.
This is something that really matters to me. If you’re new to Omniture, the learning curve can be steep. I was there myself not too long ago. Adobe is integrating Omniture technology into almost everything we offer. This means a lot of people who didn’t know Omniture before – web developers and programmers, maybe even marketers and graphic designers – are starting to ask themselves, what is this, and what can it do for me? I’m equally responsible for helping answer their questions as I am helping the ‘core’ of users who bring me the deep technical questions. I’m really excited to assist customers who are just getting started. What I want to encourage is, whether you’re new or experienced, if you have something to say, please join the discussion.
8. What skill best prepared you for this job?
JS: There are a lot of us in ClientCare and even from other departments in the company who are qualified for the technical aspect of Twitter support. I may be less technically qualified than many others who were under consideration, but what I think I bring to the role is my passion and enthusiasm for helping our clients. I think I set myself apart for this job because I genuinely do it just for love of doing it. I almost feel like I was made for Twitter support. It calls for personality, technical aptitude, and clear communication with extreme brevity. These are skills that I feel I have in abundance. In return I get the immense satisfaction of interacting with Omniture users on so many levels, and I get to facilitate or ‘catalyze’, if you’ll excuse the choice of words, their use of SiteCatalyst and other Omniture products. Some nights I go home exhausted (because some days it takes an extra couple of hours to get back with an accurate answer on every issue on my plate) but I honestly do go home each night fulfilled and happy to help our users.
9. You’ve mentioned Frank from ComcastCares in the past, what other companies are using Twitter the right way?
JS: It isn’t my policy to single out the best of a virtually limitless pool. And I can’t say that I’ve personally had enough instances of needing to take advantage of other companies’ support via Twitter (though I often think “I wish they had a Twitter team” when I get frustrated with a product.) I acknowledge, there certainly are some leaders of the pack, but I wouldn’t want to imply by exclusion that any company is not necessarily using Twitter effectively.
I’d prefer to list what matters to me and works in the best interests of Adobe’s Omniture business unit, which I represent. If your company is seeking to fulfill the same needs for your customers that we are, you may want to take these into consideration. If not, you shouldn’t imitate us; you have to write your own rules.
1. Above all, be personable. “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”
2. Seek to constructively contribute to whatever conversation you take part in. “If I’m not helping somebody, then I’m not helping anybody.”
3. Be complete, truthful, and accurate as much as 140 characters will allow. It’s all right not to know the answer to a question, as long as you know where you can find out.
4. Be timely. Users shouldn’t have to wait longer than necessary for an answer to a straightforward question.
5. When you choose to tweet without directly @ replying, make it content that will be worthwhile to all of your followers.
6. Retweet judiciously. Good stuff is worthy of repeating, but not to the point that it dilutes your timeline. (Personally I don’t feel comfortable ‘tweeting my own horn.’)
7. Know when it’s better not to say anything. Furthermore, know when it’s necessary to say something.
8. Accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative. (This is good advice no matter what you apply it to.)
9. Read your followers’ (and competitors’) blogs, and give meaningful feedback. Retweet if you like it. Give. Give far more than you ask.
A lot of companies are currently experimenting with expanding their Twitter presence, alongside Facebook and other social media channels. I think you have to treat it like an experiment, and try a few new things, measure what feedback you get. This is what led to the quote of the day, which turned out to be really popular. Other ideas were less successful. But by trying new things and gathering feedback we learned things we didn’t know before about followers of OmnitureCare. I try to have lots of ideas. They say that’s the best way to have at least one good one.
10. What is the one thing that every company that uses Twitter for support should know?
JS: It’s a piece of advice Ben Gaines gave me when I stepped into his place: Remember, you don’t own the discussion, the community does. The rest of my advice just follows that idea. Answer the questions they direct at you and the ones that people shout out that you can give the best answer to. Pay attention, and ask insightful questions of your own to the people who talk about your topic. Don’t butt in unnecessarily, don’t contradict others. Be polite and helpful. Do a lot of reading before you speak up. If you’re personable and not sales-pitchy, people will follow you because you make it worth their doing so. Then all you have to do is live up to your promise and support them.