"We consider our Twitter account akin to an information booth," says Morgan Johnston, manager of corporate communication at JetBlue Airways. "Responding to situations after they've happened is a great idea; responding to situations while they're happening is even better."

JetBlue frequently responds to tweets by directing people to tools already available for their use, such as flight-status updates and weather alerts, Johnston says. Tablet Hotels also uses its Twitter account to keep an eye on what customers are saying and what it can do in response.

"We had one of our (frequent guest) members Twitter from the front desk when the hotel was giving her a hard time," Michael Davis, co-founder of Tablet Hotels, says. "We caught it within 30 seconds of posting, and our customer service called the hotel to resolve.

"Customer problems can no longer be kept 'quiet' with the emergence of the Web," Davis says.

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