Yesterday Thunderbird hosted Warren Adelman, President and COO of GoDaddy. He spoke about customer service and social media. I found a lot of the information to be very appropriate for the relationship between professors and students. He mentioned that customers have extremely high expectations for customer service, and when polled, they generally will say the customer service they received was adequate at best. He also mentioned the demand by customers for instantaneous responses and personalized support. He believes that if businesses want to keep customers, they must perform better in the customer service area.
Thunderbird's distance learning students are working professionals, with little time to waste on slow communications, like GoDaddy's customers. They are using social media like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to connect with colleagues and look for more opportunities. How can the academic world take advantage of that?
Professors should have Facebook and LinkedIn profiles. If for nothing else, they allow you to be seen, and your accomplishments to be easily found. Many professors use these tools to publicize their research and recent publications. For classes, it allows students to see you in a different and more personal role. Facebook and LinkedIn are also great resources for connecting with guest speakers. You can search industries and companies to find CEOs and Managing Directors that might be willing to have online discussions with your students or record a video about their experiences.
Twitter is a way to give your students insight into what you are thinking and doing. Let them know you are attending a conference and what issues are being discussed, reading a great article in today's Financial Times, or having an 'ah-ha' moment when meeting with a student. It's all about connecting them to you in a way that might be missed in asynchronous classes.
Here's a good blog on using Twitter for Business and an article from The Chronicle about a professor that started using Twitter.