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Help-desk software maker Zendesk has launched a way for businesses to feed tweets through their customer support system. Twitter has long been used to manage customer complaints by small businesses and tech startups, which make up a big part of Zendesk’s clientele.

The integration is pretty simple. It doesn’t feed in all tweets that mention a company’s name. Instead, it lets employees watching the Twitter stream select certain tweets to forward on to customer service reps.

After that, the tweets turn into regular inquiries in Zendesk’s system, which tracks e-mail and messages from customers and forwards them to the right people in a company. This lets a company’s employees continue the conversation outside of the public sphere and ask more detailed questions. You can follow an entire Twitter conversation between your reps and a customer. The product also integrates with whatever existing software a company is using to manage its social media presence.

Mikkel Svane, Zendesk’s chief executive, said the company researched the social media dashboard market and decided against building a new Twitter or Facebook client from scratch.

“Other companies are coming up with fantastic Twitter clients,” Svane said. “We should let our customers use whatever they want.” Zendesk is using Twitter’s basic application programming interface to build the product, but Svane added that the company is looking at Twitter’s forthcoming annotations feature (which allows you to tag tweets) for future versions.

San Francisco-based Zendesk has at least 5,000 customers who pay between $9 and $59 per agent (or help desk operator) per month on its standard plans. Svane said that Zendesk is adding about 20 clients a day. It also has larger customers like Twitter. (Zendesk and Twitter also share a board member — Benchmark Capital general partner Peter Fenton).
Svane founded the company in Denmark in 2007. He later came to the U.S. and pulled in $6 million in venture funding from Benchmark Capital and Charles River Ventures.

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