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Using Twitter For Customer Support Is A Waste Of Time And Money

I’m a customer of a certain cable company that invests heavily in using Twitter as a customer support vehicle. You’ve probably heard them cited by a social media expert or heard one of them speak at a conference. And when you listen to their reasoning behind investing millions of dollars into this state-of-the-art customer support channel, it makes a ton of sense.

If you tweet about problems with [this cable company], someone responds. Quickly. And they stick with you. It’s not just because you’re special though, or even just because they are. The [cable company] customer service team uses the latest and greatest social media CRM (customer relationship management) software, behind the scenes.

Smart. People are complaining about your service online so figure out a way to track and address those people. Better yet, make it a world-class service that is beyond reproach.

Except it doesn’t make sense.

Twitter for customer service is garbage. You can’t send more than 140 characters. There is no secure way to communicate without having to follow one another. Any sort of screen shot is going to become public record.

Not to mention that it takes away vital resources that could be focused on something a lot less sexy than social media customer support: actual, solid, customer support and operational excellence that results in fewer complaints being aired in the first place.

I hate complaining on Twitter. It is, very literally, the last resort. So when my home internet started flaking out on me, the first thing I did wasn’t to go to social media. In fact, my first tweet to this large cable company came after a dozen online chats with their support team and multiple opened (then cancelled by them) appointments. The enthusiasm to punt me to the next service rep, for me to monitor the situation (repeatedly), and do everything to not fully resolve my issue was absurd.

This company literally forced me to the world wide web to call out for help. I still don’t know if it is resolved but I have a slightly better understanding thanks to a Twitter customer service rep. How he had more information about what was going on with my account (and in my neighborhood) than the 12 other people in the same organization that helped me is a true mystery.

I can’t imagine what it is like to have a problem with this company without social media. It’s probably pretty crappy.

You know who hasn’t invested a ton of money into Twitter as a customer support vehicle? Amazon and Apple. As a regular joe customer, I am usually in and out in one phone call or e-mail. That’s not to say they mess up that often (they don’t) or that most of the time, I’m contacting because I messed up (I am). They still resolve it.

Oh, they aren’t a service company? Then why can every other utility company out there, even the ones that operate as a virtual monopoly, manage to resolve everything in one call or e-mail? I’m sure someone has had an issue with a utility provider but I’ve had four utility providers in the last four years and only one cable company. Can you guess which one I need to call more than once when an issue pops up?

And let’s not forget that none of them are wasting money on Twitter either.

Having a working customer service department and being operationally excellent would reduce Twitter customer service issues to questions about how to get in touch, complaints in the interim of an issue getting fixed and people with true, outlier issues. The instruction to call or e-mail for support would be an actual solution because it would actually result in a solution.

Crazy, I know.

This isn’t going to last for long. At some point (maybe? hopefully?), companies will stop throwing good money after this bad idea and they will start investing in good customer service functions that result in limited social media moaning.