social media

Is Twitter a worthwhile customer service tool?

Lots of brands have social media accounts that they use to provide customer service, but what about when you need customer service in store?

Lots of brands have social media accounts that they use to provide customer service, but what about when you need customer service in store? Is it worth using Twitter to complain about bad customer service?
In a word, yes. If you go the right way about it, Twitter can be a great way to complain to brands. How do I know? Well it’s something I do often, and I think I’ve just perfected the art of getting a good result.
Taking to Twitter for the first time
When I first started using Twitter to complain it was when I was trying to set up my internet in my new flat. I wanted to go with BT, but they weren’t being very helpful as I couldn’t book an installation online and the phones were never answered (and were very expensive to call).
Feeling like I had no choice, I took to Twitter. When I got no response, I wrote a whole blog post about BT (yes, I’m that kind of person). In the end I went with Sky, whose social customer service was great, with short response times and helpful replies.
No result
Anyway, that was my first use of it. Working in a corporate company I knew there’d be at least a dedicated person to handle social customer service, if not a whole team. The second time I used Twitter to complain was when my iPhone stopped having good signal, making my phone calls distorted. In the country side poor signal is understandable, but in the City of London? Unacceptable.
Outraged, I released my wrath on EE who are possibly the most unhelpful people on the planet. They DM’d me telling me to turn my phone off and on and then said there was a faulty tower in my area (despite me telling them it was all over London).
Their lack of help left me angrier and I tweeted them again, and again, and again, but I didn’t get a response. Eventually I took my iPhone to an EE shop, where the woman said I’d have to pay £10 for a new SIM. I didn’t pay, instead I tweeted @EE furious at the fact they expected me to pay to fix a problem on their end. To this day they’ve done nothing more, so I wrote a blog post and switched to O2.
Changing luck
I had a break from complaining on Twitter until a few weeks ago when I found plastic in my sausage bap from Sainsbury’s (breakfast was ruined). I tweeted my disgust (with the use of several swear words) and after a few data exchanges via DM (email, postal address, where I bought it etc.), I had a £10 Sainsbury’s giftcard delivered to my door the next day.
My next encounter was when a Miss Selfridge employee left the security tag on my jeans, meaning I had to spend an hour and £3 going back to the shop to get it taken off. I was not happy. I had better things to do with my day, so on the way to the store I tweeted them explaining the situation and the fact that I was not happy at all (although phrased not so politely).
They responded the next day apologising and asking for store details (which I provided), but fixing the cause wasn’t enough. What about the money and time I’d lost because of their mistake? They then offered me something like £1.60. At this point I turned on caps lock to explain that the majority of Londoners take the tube, sending them a copy of current tube fares.
Eventually they raised their cheque to £5 and sent it to me in 10 working days (a long wait compared to Sainsbury’s). It was still a good result, except they’d assumed that my Twitter name was my real name and I have no way to cash a cheque sent to Aysh Banaysh. Still, it’s the thought that counts. (Although how many Twitter accounts actually use the owner’s legal name?!)
Last week, I casually tweeted how Pret’s lack of bread and bags ruined my day without even wanting a response or compensation (I just really wanted bread), but Pret followed and asked me to DM my details and are now sending me a £5 gift card.
So how am I getting all of this success from my complaints? Well, here’s the recipe:
  • A cup of outrage
  • A sprinkle of swear words (can be removed or replaced with displeased emojis)
  • Half a pint of cooperation
  • 3 tablespoons of persistence
Note: You also need to know what you want out of complaining.
Be careful
If you’re not outraged enough companies can sometimes take longer to respond as you’re not much of a threat to their reputations, however too much outrage and they’re likely to write you off as ‘one of those complainers’ and do nothing. I sometimes find that swearwords can help express this outrage, while also helping you express your emotions, but you need to be careful with what you say.
If you want something out of the brand to compensate then you’re going to have to cooperate and give them the information they want about the incident so that they can prevent it in the future. At this stage you’re the weaker party as you’re relying on them to compensate. Lastly, you need persistence. If they’re not responding or not giving you a fair result then you need to persist and go after what you deserve.
Have you used Twitter to complain about customer service? What was your experience? Drop a comment below and let’s compare!
Photo: 401(K) 2012 / Flickr