Wednesday, January 19

Is Twitter the answer to getting customer support?

A few weeks back my Buffalo Linkstation started dying, badly.. I had bad sectors all over the shop.

Fortunately I had just backed it up (phew!) so whilst data loss was not an issue (and believe me, I'd have been gutted if that had happened) getting a replacement sorted definitely was, as the unit was still under the 2 year warranty.  However, as a year had (just) expired, I had to return the unit to Buffalo's RMA warehouse in the Netherlands.

Despite being a tad miffed at the extortionate price required to return the unit, I dutifully parcelled the knackered unit up (after giving it a few hard stares and swearing at it a few times) and nipped down to the post office to post it.  Because I had to do this on New Year's Eve (yup, the bastard thing died on me over Christmas), I knew it would take a little longer to get to its destination than normal, but I was relaxed about that.

Then at the beginning of last week I checked the tracking on the parcel (recommend the Royal Mail's AirSure service whenever posting anything of value abroad), and it said a delivery attempt had been made on the Saturday, but no-one had been there to take delivery, so the parcel was being held by the Dutch Post Office.  I contacted Buffalo RMA support, who told me that they were closed at weekends, and had received no card, and I would have to contact the Dutch Post Office to arrange redelivery?

Not being fluent in Dutch, and aware that the parcel would be returned to the UK if it was not collected within a certain time period, I quickly went to the Royal Mail website and tried to find the contact us section of the site.  Have you ever noticed that it's easier to find rocking horse shit than find a page on a website that lets you contact a company.. any site that's selling you something is ten times worse. believe me.

Anyway, managed to find a "Contact Us" page and once I'd got past the "Have you checked our FAQ?" sections (yes, and they did FAQ all to help me thanks) managed to drop the Royal Mail a line.  This was responded to almost immediately..

Or rather that should read, this was auto-responded to almost immediately  In the automated response, I was informed that it would be 5 days before I was likely to get any kind of response.  Arse! And of course, calling them would involve a lengthy wait randomly pressing numbers in response to another automated system only resulting in another lengthy wait in a queue whilst I was being told that my call was important to them (not so important that they's actually employ enough staff to answer the fucking telephone, mind) which I didn't have time to do during working hours as - aha! - was in work.

And then it struck me: "I wonder if they're on twitter?" (see, and you thought I'd never get to the point, ye of little faith).. a few seconds later on the twitter user search showed that they were: @RoyalMail.  So I dropped 'em a tweet, and had answers within 20 minutes.

No 5 days to read my mail
No "Press 1 if you want to send Anthrax to your MP" (I would, it'd be cruel to Scott Ian)

Some companies are really making use of twitter to help their customers out in a way that's probably more efficient for them (not listening to whinging customers complaining) and us (not having to wait half an hour to five days to have a good whinge).

Could this really be the future..??

Of course, some companies go above and beyond the call of duty..
Microsoft's XBox Support (@XBoxSupport) must search twitter for enquiries not even directed at them and this is how I found out about them.. I randomly tweeted something about transferring content licences from one console or the other and these guys, out of the blue, gave me an answer.  Of course I follow them now and they have dealt with all subsequent enquiries incredibly quickly! In short, @XBoxSupport are awesome.

So could Twitter become the de-facto way to get customer support in the future..?  It certainly seems that some companies are showing how it can be done.. and I for one salute them

Oh and follow @silentbazz for briefer commentary on random shit wot I do think about

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