Twitter Customer Support: the best thing that happened for customers and companies

Warning: This blogpost has been posted over two years ago. That is a long time in development-world! The story here may not be relevant, complete or secure. Code might not be complete or obsoleted, and even my current vision might have (completely) changed on the subject. So please do read further, but use it with caution.
Posted on 07 Jul 2013
Tagged with: [ social media ]  [ twitter

I’m not a social media 2.0 hipster kinda guy. I use Twitter a lot on personal account, I do not have Facebook. But i do some LinkedIn. There’s lots of power in (ab)using social media, I understand this, and I understand I do not use their full potential (nor I want to do so). However, there is one case I like to use social media with Twitter in particular: complaining to companies. Why? It works.. and almost at a 100% satisfaction rate.

This is the deal: you buy something from a company and things go wrong. This happens. Even with the best companies. And your best bet just a few years ago was to call some (expensive) pay-by-minute service number, hopefully get through within 30 minutes, tell your story.. twice or three times.. and hopefully things gets fixed.. A week later, probably you need to do the same routine again, while talking to completely different people who can only do whatever their little computer-screen tells them to do. I suspect most companies use a support-desk as cannon-fodder, and are kept ignorant and non-decisive so they honestly can tell customers: “there is nothing we can do for you”.

Personally, I value support more than price. Which is why i fly more expensive air-lines, why I have a above average insurance on some things, and why I stay with a bank that constantly keep messing up stuff. Because I know when there are issues (and there WILL be issues), it gets fixed. I get support because in those cases, i NEED support.

Enter the social realm

Enter Twitter, but the same thing probably will be just as effective with other types like Facebook and such. On Twitter, I like to type however or whatever i’m feeling so when something wrong happens with a service or product, i’ll be the first to post it online. If i’m inside the store, if it just arrived by mail. Doesn’t matter. Twitter is always a keyboard or touchscreen away. Now, I myself do not have a lot of followers, around 600 or so, and it will probably never really get more than that as I do not follow lots of people (less than 200, so it’s a healthy ratio I guess), but the effects are the same, one retweet from somebody of 2000+ is enough to spread tweets around like an oil-spill.

So complaining about something, *instantly* tells others about the product or company. Even if they don’t realize it, your followers and retweeted followers will store this information somewhere in the back nevertheless.

Because the complains  I read from people in my Twitter neighborhood,  are the complains from the people who will buy the same products and services that I would likely to buy. They are super-important factor in deciding wether or not I do business with those companies and being the same profile (or close-by), means companies are loosing prospects instantly.

But it goes further than just spreading complaints: lots of companies have a twitter support-desk, which 9 out of 10 times, maybe even 10 out of 10 times, is much better than their own call-service: why? It’s all public! You as a customer have the advantage and the means to directly tell literally the whole world, about your experiences with the company. And companies know that they will do this. This way, they are FORCED to give proper support (and probably a lot cheaper support than hiring a call-center)

Some of these companies actually “get” it.. like @klm, who has a 24/7 twitter desk and respond quick, correctly AND can make decisions. @dhlexpress_NL, tend to mess and delay my packages, but they respond pretty quickly on tweets, and it already happened a few times the packages was send AND received the same day after contacting them. Many companies however, do not really get it: they just have 9-5 twitter desk, do not respond in the weekend, or pretty much can’t do anything except telling people to call their service-number (pretty much trying to defer the client to a private area, so when the shit hits the fan, at least nobody knows about it).

Twitter gives you a very good idea on how well a product / service is..  I try to get information about products and companies through this channel. Note however, twitter will always be biased more towards the negative than the positive, so lots of complaints does not say everything about a product. How much I like internet, it will never replace a sane mind and intuition.