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Twitter: The Next Customer Service Line?

Out Of Date Warning

Languages change. Perspectives are different. Ideas move on. This article was published on September 26, 2008 which is more than two years ago. It may be out of date. You should verify that technical information in this article is still current before relying upon it for your own purposes.

A few months ago, I had Comcast Business internet installed at my home (since I run business-level services). It was a mess, but the process was helped by a guy named Frank who operates a Twitter account called @ComcastCares. He was informed, helpful, and above all, got the job done. I was impressed.

If that were an isolated incident, I’d say this was just an example of Comcast doing something innovative and new. But it’s not an isolated incident. Recently, I had a bad experience on Southwest Airlines, and I did what any Twitter-loving technophile would do: I contacted @SouthwestAir.

@SouthwestAir is by no means intended for customer service inquiries. As Christine (the woman who is @SouthwestAir) put it, “this is not usually how we handle complaints.” She’s actually in communications, not customer relations. But she felt bad about my story and wanted to see if she could help.

Regardless of her role, she was able to arrange a refund of my money, which was really what I wanted. And @SouthwestAir was able to solve the problem – a problem that phone calls to “traditional” outlets had not solved.

I’d be interested to see if other companies put specialists on Twitter with the goal of helping customers resolve their issues, much like Comcast has done. It’s a great medium – it’s personal, it’s individual, and it’s terribly effective. But it doesn’t scale well, as @ComcastCares will likely tell you (he’s worked with me at midnight on occasion, which can’t be good for his marriage).

But for now, Twitter, you have saved me. And for that, you have my gratitude.

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