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Twitter Apparently Forgot the Most Important Part of Growing a Business: Customer Support
When I was a young kid trying to make a buck, I quickly learned that the most important thing I offered was my service. I actually got more business just by providing great customer service and that made me just continue to increase the service I provided. Whether it was selling newspapers, coding HTML for a client, buying millions of dollars in media or processing business cards, service has always been my differentiator. When I work with startups, I stress the importance of providing the best possible support at all times.
I’ve heard stories about how tough it is to actually get any help from Twitter’s customer service but until recently I haven’t had a need to contact them for help. In January, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone heralded their great support department on the Twitter blog so I was certainly hoping for a quick resolution to my issue.
Here’s an overview of my issue and why I’ve contacted support for help. I am having an issue with my @cloudcontacts account. For some reason, I can’t get the account to work correctly. Half of the time when I load twitter.com, I get a login box which won’t let me login. However if I just refresh the page enough times (never the same number), eventually it lets me in. Direct messages never show up correctly, and when people try to access the page for the @cloudcontacts account, they too get a "That page doesn’t exist!" message but if you refresh that page, you eventually get the account too (although today the account seems to not show up as many times as I refresh). I can’t reset the password because it gets stuck in this "no account/yes account" problem. I’ve tried to create a new @cloudcontacts account – the registration page says it’s available, but on submission, it says it’s taken.
I went ahead and submitted an issue ticket (which was hell because they want you to be logged in which as you can see above only works on random loads). I received a quick auto-reply with a message about passwords but nothing about what happens next. I replied to that message asking for additional help but heard nothing back. This week I submitted another ticket with more specific details about the issue after the research I did. This time I didn’t receive a password auto-reply, instead, I received the following reply:
Your request has been received, and is being reviewed by our support staff. Twitter Support is currently experiencing a backlog: in some cases, it may be 5 to 7 business days before you receive a reply. Problems and issues will be investigated first, followed by general requests and questions.
Does this mean I will receive any help? My issue is certainly a "problem" and not a general request or question. Based on the people who emailed me after my first tweet about the issue, the answer is "who knows". Orli Yakuel of the popular Go2Web20 directory has a good post about the (lack of) support that Twitter provides. She’s waiting over a month as are countless others pleading for help.
I’ve tried twittering/messaging to the Twitter founders but they haven’t replied either.
Here’s a company that is in their honeymoon period where blogs and mainstream media can’t get enough of the service (more on that later). Twitter has raised $55 million dollars in funding. If there is a backlog of support issues as the auto-reply states, why not take a tiny bit of cash, hire 10-20 support people for a week, and get the backlog resolved? I am willing to bet that the majority of support issues would take minutes to resolve or answer and more customers would be satisfied.
Let’s forget about the customer for a minute and think about if we were working at Twitter. How great would it be to get the queue cleared out so we don’t have to see a backlog everyday and could focus on the product?
The interesting thing here is that Twitter is heralded as this great platform for providing customer service with major companies like Zappos, Dell, Comcast, Mosso and JetBlue using the service for support. Yet the underlying platform company doesn’t provide the same level of support for the companies who use their platform.
I am sharing this long story for one reason: for you to take a moment and think about the support you provide on your web applications. Are you making sure each and everyday that your customers are satisfied with the support you provide?
My hope is that the issue listed above is resolved expeditiously so I can use the account to communicate with my customers and during the SXSW festival. I will report back once the issue is resolved.