July 22, 2009, 12:00 AM

Best Buy launches service via Twitter, linking consumers and experts

The company’s new Twelpforce enables tweeters to tweet problems or questions to Best Buy anytime, anywhere. Best Buy staff with relevant expertise instantly respond, aiding not just the consumer with a question but all tweeters who follow @twelpforce.

There’s a trend brewing among retailers using Twitter: customer service. When a retailer assigns staff to monitor a Twitter account all day, customers can get extremely fast answers to questions because of the instantaneous nature of the micro-blogging social network. Twitter even rivals live chat when it comes to answering customer questions in a timely fashion. The big difference between a live chat system and Twitter, though, is that Twitter is free. What’s more, tweeters with mobile phones can tweet a retailer anytime, anywhere.

Best Buy is pushing customer service via Twitter in a big way through the introduction of a new service dubbed Twelpforce. The idea is to tap into the expertise and product passions of all of Best Buy’s employees to immediately give consumers all the information they need. Staffed by Best Buy employees from across all operations, including Blue Shirts and Geek Squad, Twelpforce will answer product questions, troubleshoot technology challenges and solve customer service issues, all from a user’s personal computer or mobile phone.

Twitter users can send messages to @twelpforce to alert Best Buy employees of their problems or questions. Twelpforce will reply to that specific user, although other Twitter users will be able to monitor conversations if they elect to follow @twelpforce. Messages contain attributions to the individual employees who respond to questions.

“If you have a question about an electronics product-no matter where you bought it, no matter where you are and even if you haven’t bought it yet-Best Buy is here to help,” says Barry Judge, chief marketing officer. “We’ve long believed that it is Best Buy’s employees who make us unique, and their knowledge provides the greatest value customers receive in shopping at Best Buy. This unique extension lets them share their passions and abilities to bring true support to those in need anywhere.”

Best Buy, No. 10 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, is aggressively pushing Twelpforce, with in-store signs, online banners and even a television commercial devoted solely to the new service.

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