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Twitter candidate emerges,
as TTC gets set to unveil customer-service panel

By Nicole McIsaac

Toronto could get its first look at the TTC’s customer service panel this week — and it may include a social-media guru who has spent the last few days lobbying the Twitter crowd to make him their candidate.

The TTC has reserved one spot for a Twitter user, asking would-be candidates to make 140-character pitches. An early front-runner has emerged from the pack: Justin Kozuch — or @jkozuch on Twitter.

“I’ve attended a number of TTC commission meetings, live blogged a few of them. So I have an interest in how the TTC works from a structural point of view,” said Mr. Kozuch, CEO of Refresh Events, which organizes new-media educational events. “I’m going to do whatever it takes to get on this panel.”

Mr. Kozach did not even have to apply, accepting a nomination from Julie Tyios, CEO of Red Juice Media, but soon received a multitude of reTweets with the hashtag #justinforttcpanel.

Steve O’Brien, the One King West hotel manager who was named committee chair last week, said he’s been winnowing down potential panelists.

“We got it down to a shortlist, and now we’re down to the shortlist of the shortlist,” Mr. O’Brien said.

The entire panel will be announced as early as Friday, said Mr. O’Brien.

In an interview, Mr. Kozuch said the first thing he would try to do would be to institute mandatory customer service training for all staff.

As well, he said he thinks the TTC needs a system similar to the city of Toronto’s 311 call centre to better handle complaints and concerns.

“We have a citizens’ base that are dying to be engaged,” he said.

Mr. Kozuch said the TTC has responded well, from a PR angle, to the recent social media attacks on the system. “I have to give kudos to Brad Ross for being out there and understanding that this is a tool that they can use effectively to be able to talk to the customer on a one-on-one basis.”

“The customer has a lot of great ideas on how to fix problems, the TTC needs to be willing to have open conversations with them,” Mr. Kozuch said.