Scaling customer support over Twitter – even for my friends

Posted on January 13, 2012


You could argue that something weird started to happen with customer service when major brands took to Twitter – albeit with a slight delay after those major brands’ customers got there – to deal with negative or other service-related comments.

I’ve just recently set up by myself and as such had to go out and buy all manner of new products and services – new PC, mobile phone contract, handset, printer etc..  So I decided to follow the Twitter accounts of the major brands I use – not, I should add, because they immediately screwed up. I just thought it a good idea to know what was going on, through that particular social media filter, at Asus, Orange, Samsung etc..

I’m hardly the first person to do this. But what has been a lot weirder has been seeing friends and colleagues of mine, who have me as a follower on Twitter, interact with some of the same companies, usually with some sort of complaint. Small world and all that.

You could imagine this isn’t so strange. For one thing, I’m not going to see tweets from people I don’t follow bitching about those companies. I am interested in those suppliers – but not interested enough to search for mentions of their names constantly or use related hashtags.

Also, perhaps the type of people I know are quite savvy about making their voices heard. Someone I know had a similar experience with another (for now) important supplier of mine, Virgin Media. (In my case one of their call centres proved worse than useless – I was trying to reduce my considerable monthly bill, they instead increased it then gave me a “Your word against ours” that I hadn’t previously phoned to ask for less service at more cost.) In the case of the guy I know, there I was just a few weeks later seeing him go back and forth with problems with scheduled maintenance or an installation, if memory serves.

This begs all kind of questions. I’m not so much thinking about coincidences but whether the social media teams at major brands – who are often very good at what they do, from what I can tell – can scale up their efforts.

Also, why is this level of service only reserved for social media users? I guess I know the answer many would tell me is: Because of the negative PR a negative tweet, Facebook comment or similar can lead to. But surely just as buying and customer service moved to the web over the past decade so interacting with brands will increasingly be over social channels, much more so than call centres or those companies’ own websites?

There is still a long way to go in this area. Perhaps I’m unduly sensitive to companies I’ve recently spent lots of money with and depend upon for a living as well as those I respect the most on channels such as Twitter.

Perhaps the type of interaction I’ve been talking about will happen more and more often. Perhaps those wizzy social media teams will even keep up.

Have you ever turned to social channels to get the treatment you felt you deserved from a company? If so, I’d love you drop in a Comment below.