Moderating a Social Media Today webinar a few days ago on “Is Twitter the New Help Line? Improving Customer Service with Social Media” was an eye-opener, for several reasons.

Certainly, using social media to complain, praise or just talk about a company is the new norm. However, the extent to which some companies have embraced a progressive strategy in what I consider a relatively short time is impressive. Wasn’t it just yesterday that getting a response when you emailed a company was iffy, much less receiving a Tweeted response within hours, even minutes?

Congratulations to Carol Borghesi (@cborghesi) of Telus, Alex Schott  (@nolaschott) of Entergy, Alyson Stone (@Alyson2) of and Michelle Moore of Zappos (@Zappos_Service) for sharing not just their best practices for communicating with customers via social media but also the philosophy that is essential for success. Kudos to Salesforce (@salesforce) for sponsoring the webinar.

It was a pleasant experience as well to see all the people following along, offering comments and retweets via #SMTLive. The more I experience the cross-connection between live webinars and Twitter, the more it seems to heighten the experience for participants on either channel. And this comes from someone who spent years as a news reporter and editor before re-inventing in the New World of cyber-communication. (I curate and for Social Media Today.)

For the webinar itself, click here. In addition, this smattering of Tweets during the live event offers some great observations.