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Twitter: The Best Way To Tell Customer Service To Suck It

5-31-2010-3-00-36-AM

There is not much I hate more than having to call some company’s customer service line. If I have to take the time to do this: A) I’m already pissed off, B) Said company’s automated system is going to take me to a new level of pissed off, and C) I feel sorry for whoever answers the phone at this point, unless you’re a real prick, then you deserve to talk to me. One quickly discovers that threatening to make a public mockery of whatever company is on your shit-list at the time is a waste of breath. These companies truly do not care about you telling your neighbor or best friend to switch cable companies because your cable box froze during the biggest game of the year.

However, at least for companies that have joined the Twitter game, which is any company that provides, well, anything, there is new PR incentive to ease the concerns of their customers. We, the good consumer, now have a direct line to publicly air our latest first-world problem, the best part being that the company will actually see that we’re doing it. If I’m going to take the time to publicly hate on someone, I want the perpetrator to know what I’m up to. Doing so allows us to bypass the less persistent complainers, and that damn automated system, and proceed straight to the front of the customer service line.

Even my state highway department has a Twitter. As the self-proclaimed road monitor, it was like opening a present when I saw I could tweet them about every pothole in my city. I didn’t get a response, but I have like two followers comparatively to others. For people that have a much larger online presence, the incentive becomes even larger for companies to give this person a cyber-hug and let them and their follower base know that this company actually gives a shit, or is at least going to pretend to. For instance, this particular blogger had his gas and electric cut off with no notice from his local power company, apparently due to an error in payment processing. This gentleman has roughly 20,000 followers. It was a prime opportunity for this power company to step up and attempt to publicly assist him. Nineteen exchanged tweets later and numerous more tweets concerning the real issue that is legal monopolies, and his power was back on. Would the same result have occurred if this guy just called in like the standard customer? Probably, yes, but it wouldn’t have been near as entertaining for us bystanders watching this Twitter standoff, nor given the power company this “exciting” PR opportunity.

I first noticed this twitter relief trend the most with airlines. Nothing brings out the inner asshole of a person more than lost baggage or delayed flights. Working those airline counters has got to be one of the worst jobs ever, especially when airport-bar-drunk me stumbles up there asking when the hell my plane will be ready for boarding because it’s hard to hear those announcements in the bar. A colleague informed me that Delta Airlines once followed him after he tweeted them to suck a (male sex organ). If a customer was to call an agent personally and present this same, hopefully rhetorical, request, the operator would just hang up on you. I doubt that service agent subsequently friends you on Facebook and monitors if you’re talking online trash about their company. For some magical reason, Twitter complaints strike a different chord. And let’s please not forget about the time that the “movie gods” rescued W.R. Bolen from his living hell:

 


Basically, this new way of airing our grievances is great for us consumers that inherently have less bargaining power. It also has the potential to be great for companies that take the time to transform public shaming into a showing of superb customer care, not to mention leave your followers immensely amused as spectators to these showdowns.

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McMagistrate

After stretching college out for 9 years, McMagistrate is now an attorney in her late-ish 20's who earned her title by embracing the stigma that accompanies a healthy partying habit. She enjoys showing off her sub-par golf game and pretending her impressive law school loan doesn't exist. You can likely find her on her patio, live-tweeting her wine binges, and concerning her neighbors.

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