Tips to get good customer service using Twitter

Venting on Twitter is a common way of dealing with bad customer service -- but is it effective? (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
How to complain effectively on Twitter

Neal Augenstein | November 15, 2014 2:36 pm

WASHINGTON — The first thing many people do after receiving lousy customer service is tweet about it. Venting in 140 characters or less is evidently cathartic.

“It’s very rewarding to get angry on Twitter, because you get a lot of people reflecting that anger back,” says Rafe Needleman, editorial director with Yahoo Tech.

Needleman says companies realize the importance of including Twitter and Facebook as ways to interact with customers and reacting to dissatisfied consumers.

In his article, 7 Tips for Getting Good Customer Support on Twitter,” he points out that customers who complain about customer service can get very different outcomes.

As WTOP first reported, Comcast apologized after Ryan Block recorded his frustrating attempt to cancel his cable service.

Yet, a Minneapolis man and his family were asked to leave a Southwest Airlines flight after he tweeted his complaints about a particular boarding agent.

“It can go either way — it depends on how you tweet,” says Needleman.

The king of customer service complaints

Needleman went to the expert who has fielded more than his share of angry customer ventings — the man behind the Twitter account @comcastcares from 2008 to 2010.

Frank Eliason was a fixer, Needleman says.

“I resorted to tweeting to this account once and was amazed by Frank’s careful handling of issue. It turned around my opinion about Comcast overnight,” says Needleman.

Here are Eliason’s suggestions for getting good customer service using (or not using) Twitter:

  1. Evaluate. Is your complaint valid?
    Before you explode, consider whether this is just a misunderstanding.
  2. Keep it professional
    Don’t attack the person who offended you. The Southwest customer made a mistake by calling out the Southwest agent by name.
  3. Help people see your side
    If you’re venting to the Twittersphere, you want people to see you sympathetically.
  4. Accentuate the positive
    Tweeting about positive customer service experiences bolsters your credibility.
  5. Twitter is a community, and it can help you
    Rather than shouting into a mob, asking if anyone on Twitter knows how to fix a problem often ends with a solution.
  6. Take it private
    If you want to get a solution, maybe Twitter isn’t the best avenue. “Try to find a higher-up at the company, maybe even the CEO and write to them directly — you’re more likely to get a good response if you’re civil and go to the right person,” says Needleman.
  7. Remember what you want
    If you actually want a problem solved, gentle persuasion will likely be the most effective approach.

Eliason has a new book about customer service, called “@YourService”. Follow @WTOP and @WTOPtech on Twitter, and on the


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