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Is Twitter Customer Support Encouraging Undesirable Behavior

November 9, 2010

Today’s post is somewhat off-topic for a technical / M&S site, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about lately and is applicable to all service companies.

I have problems with one of my service provides more frequently that I think I should.  Namely, an expensive service that I rely on drops out unexpectedly and it sometimes doesn’t come back for hours.  Like a good customer, my first call is to the customer support phone line.  And, probably like most callers, I come away disappointed with the support I get or what the nice person at the other end of the phone can actually accomplish.  So, I then do one of two things, sometimes both.  I go to the local service center and complain (another hassle and waste of time) or I post a comment on Twitter.  I generally choose the latter.

Perhaps it’s the visibility of Twitter posts or just that the people who are monitoring Twitter have more authority, but I *always* get my problem fixed and I get it fixed a lot faster than the customer support line says I will.  In one recent case, I got my problem resolved a day earlier!

So, first let me say, “Thanks” to the nice people on Twitter who are able to resolve my issues quickly and efficiently.  However, they have me convinced that if I want to do get something done I should complain on Twitter.  So my choices, from a customer viewpoint are 1) make a private call to customer support and come away unsatisfied or 2) complain publicly on Twitter and get my problem resolved.  I come away happy and the company comes away looking worse for the wear.  I will say that I always follow up with a thanks for the help when the problem is resolved, after all, policy and procedure is set from on-high, not by the folks helping me.

So what’s the solution from a companies viewpoint?  I believe there are two options.  First, they could stop incenting me to complain publicly by providing the same level of service as they do when I call customer support.  The drawback to this approach is that they still get negative comments in a very public forum and I still have a negative opinion.  Or, they could empower customer support to be able to satisfy my problem as well as the folks on Twitter do.  If this were the case I’d be willing to make a private call to get my problem resolved.

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