How to get great customer service part 2: Twitter interaction

Long time readers of this blog know that I am a huge advocate for great customer service. I recently wrote about my experience in handling a faulty electric toothbrush return and how efficient it was to use the company’s online chat feature to do so. Today, I am going to show you how Twitter can be a powerful tool for customer service as well.

First, a little jargon and background is necessary. Even if you are familiar with Twitter, there is a separate feature, called Direct Messaging, that really makes that platform helpful for reaching a human being. Direct Messaging (or DM) is simply a two-way communication between you and the recipient. How is that different from normal Twittering or Tweeting? While you can post messages for the entire world to see, DMs are private. But, as helpfully laid out on Twitter’s Help page:

  • You can only send Direct Messages to users who follow you
  • You can receive Messages from any user that you follow
customer service

Photo Credit: Wikimedia


Thus, the bottom line is essentially that you need to follow the person, company, etc, you are trying to DM and they do the same in return. So, you might ask, how do I get a problem resolved then? Well, what you need to do is make a public tweet that essentially asks “Hey Company X, I am having a problem with your product or service.” Then, depending on how significant or unique the problem is, the company will follow you and either say, “Please send us a DM and we can discuss this issue,” or “please see our frequently asked questions page at for help.” Obviously, we want the DM option if we need specialized assistance.

Twitter Customer Service in action

Here is how Twitter has worked for me in the real world. Recently, I had made two reservations with a major airline. I made them knowing that I could cancel them within 24 hours and receive a full refund (note: this is pretty standard now). I ended up cancelling both a few hours later. No problem, right? Big airline acknowledged in my history that I made two reservations and cancelled them within the time frame allowed so I was entitled to a refund. Great. I will just sit tight and watch the refund transactions process. A few more days pass and when I look at my credit card statement, big airline had fully processed the transactions and now I owed a boat load. Arrgh! But, no problem as I wasn’t worried, just annoyed that I might have to take some action here. To Twitter I went.

Yesterday, I initiated a chat with big airline (I have a relationship with them, so I could DM freely). A few hours pass. They initially respond and request some more information. I go to bed. I wake up and they have part of the issue resolved but need a bit more information. I provide it. A bit later, they indicated that their refunds department is handling the matter. Of course, I will be watching my credit card statement like a hawk, but since this company’s customer service is pretty reputable, I am pretty confident that the problem has been resolved.

Bottom line, even if you never plan on tweeting out #ijustatethatsandwich or other pointless missives, Twitter is a great avenue for customer service help. I hope to see this medium flourish in the future as I think it is an excellent way to conduct business.

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