Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Twitter: The New Customer Service

Elisa Peimer writes:

A few months ago I wrote about Twitter as a means of business-to-customer communication. I had been intrigued by reading about what happened to a guy who had been stranded at the airport after his JetBlue flight was delayed. I found it really interesting that the whole customer service process – JetBlue trying to figure out what the problem was, Southwest stepping in and trying to get the guy on one of their flights – represented a fundamentally new way of business-to-customer communication. All instantaneous, all public. It broadened the perception that Twitter was about more than just letting people know what you were doing at any given moment.

One of my favorite bloggers,, recently posted her own highly entertaining story of a customer service issue resolved via Twitter with Maytag. After a long bout of poor customer service regarding a broken washing machine, she tweeted her frustration in no uncertain terms. The result? A call from a manager at Whirlpool, Maytag's parent company; quick service; and even an offer of a free machine from another manufacturer.

I recently had one of my own customer relations issue resolved via Twitter. It happened after a certain amount of frustration. I’m currently working with a wonderful Indian singer named Chandrika Tandon and I was in the process of getting her new album up on popular online music distributor CD Baby. Due to a misunderstanding at the printer, I needed a UPC number from CD Baby, stat. I emailed. No response. I called. No one picked up the phone. I continued to email and call for days, to no avail. Meanwhile, the printer was waiting on the project until a UPC number could be procured. In desperation, I posted a tweet to CD Baby’s Twitter page – Hello? Is anybody out there? Why aren’t you responding to emails or picking up your phone?

Apparently, someone at the company watches their Twitter feed – within 5 minutes I got a response. “Sorry you’ve been having trouble getting through – what’s up?” After going back and forth on Twitter a few times, my UPC code problem was resolved within hours. I was glad I was able to get my client what she needed, but I couldn’t help but be annoyed that I had had to resort to a public calling out of bad customer service before I could get a response. At the same time, thank goodness for Twitter – if I hadn’t had the option of using that method to get in touch with the company, who knows when I would have been able to get the help I needed?

1 comment:

  1. I have had a few good experiences myself getting a stubborn customer service problem kick-started via Twitter. I am a little curious what to make of it, since my feeling is that once it starts to become a mainstream channel for service, it may become so overwhelmed that it puts us back to the inefficiency of phone support and emails that go straight to the bit-bucket.

    But if companies can find a way to really maintain this type of responsiveness as usage increases, I will be very happy as a customer!