I’ve using Twitter since 2009, and while I’ve never used it to its full capacity (meaning I don’t have thousands of followers, I don’t follow thousands of people, I don’t typically share pictures of my meals), I use the platform to meet my needs.
I maintain two accounts, one professional (@rhargismccc) where I keep up with news and trends in higher ed and instructional technology, live tweet during conferences or webinars, and interact with others in my profession. On my personal account (@3twenty6), I follow some of my favorite sports teams (the New York Yankees and Carolina Panthers) or bands (Twitter was indispensable during 2014’s #FareTheWell concerts) or to live-tweet during some of my favorite TV shows (#Banshee, #BetterCallSaul, and #TWD, etc).
When I mention Twitter to friends or colleagues, many of them say something to the effect of “Oh! I don’t Tweet!” or “I just don’t get Twitter” or “What’s the point? I’ve got Facebook already.” If you’re reading this, the odds are that you already get Twitter and don’t need me to explain it. But I do want to share a couple of experiences where Twitter was used for customer service and how I got immediate satisfaction.
Scenario One: Qwickly Resolved
This semester, our institution is piloting the Qwickly Attendance tool in Blackboard. Things have gone very well, and from unless something goes horribly wrong, the odds are good that we’ll add Qwickly to our arsenal of tools once the pilot expires. On February 2, I was hosting our first faculty training session. That morning, Qwickly released an update to the Building Block which contained significant functionality upgrades. I had given it the cursory testing on our test server and updated it on the live server. I was eager to show off these new features, and they worked in my test course, so I didn’t take the time to do thorough testing and create a new course with a new instance of the tool (my fault). Before I went to the training session, I tweeted that I was getting ready to do so and included @QwicklyTools in the tweet (to which they promptly responded), then off I went to showcase our new and groovy tool.
The presentation started off well enough, I opened a course and showed faculty how easily they could take attendance in a class. Then I went to demonstrate how to configure the tool, and at that point something went wrong….. I couldn’t get past the setup screen. I went into the Blackboard admin panel, uninstalled the update and re-installed the previous version and resumed my presentation. and our faculty (who are always great when tech snafus happen) were quite understanding and forgiving, and didn’t let my error dissuade them from using the tool. But still, I’d presented to a room full of people, and my presentation didn’t go as planned. I was not amused. So I took to Twitter and said vented my frustration….
Within a matter of minutes, Qwickly was on the case. They corrected the issue, released a patch, and all was right with the universe. And, of course, I offered the obligatory shout out Tweet.
Not too bad. Yes, there was a technical issue. Yes, something failed to perform as expected. Yes, it was partly my fault for not performing thorough testing. However, the problem was quickly resolved. Nothing exploded. No data vanished. And it was quickly resolved because I took to Twitter to voice my concerns and the good folks at Qwickly were quick to respond.
Scenario Two: Politely Kvetching
Last night, I’m at home watching the Yankees season opener (It was a 1pm game, but as an MLB.TV subscriber, I can watch every game on demand), when an ad comes on the screen saying that T-Mobile customers can get a free year of MLB.TV. I’m a T-Mobile customer and felt a little bummed that here I was having already paid for something I could have gotten for free. So again, I take to Twitter to politely kvetch about my situation. I posted a tweet, bemoaning my plight and within a matter of minutes, T-Mobile replied to me.
After a few Direct Messages where I provided proof that I am who I say I am, T-Mobile and MLB hooked me up, and again, I publicly expressed my gratitude.
While I didn’t get a refund for my investment into MLB.TV (an investment I make annually anyway), I DID get a credit for MLB’s store for the amount of my purchase ($109). So now, I can almost afford that Brett Gardner jersey I’ve been wanting. 🙂
Okay. So here’s the thing. One of the things that makes Twitter great is that it is a fully public environment (unless you configure your account otherwise). Anything said on Twitter goes out to the entire universe. Most of the time, it’s of no consequence (like when I make some comment about a TV show or a play in a ball game). It’s just a place where I can hang out with folks who share a common interest and discuss the interest in real-time.
But, as a consumer, Twitter is more than a place to hang out. It’s an invaluable platform, a public arena for airing grievances. Any company that wants to stay in business will pay attention to what’s being said about them on Twitter. It’s just part of doing business in the twenty-first century. In the two cases I mentioned, both companies provided me (the consumer) with prompt service and a complete resolution of the issues. But what if they hadn’t resolved the issues so promptly???