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December 8, 2010

When David Tweets Goliath

Over the last week, I’ve been doing my usual amount of “tweeting” during work hours and after – ranging from bouncing design ideas off of others, discussing my favorite hockey team, or just conversing with any number of people I’ve met thru Twitter. In case you’ve been living in a cave for the past year or so, Twitter is a »microblogging« platform – allowing people to communicate with each other in 140 characters or less. CommonCraft does a great way of explaining how Twitter works in this two minute video.

What that video does not tell you is this – Twitter can be a great equalizer. Take what happened to me over the last week, thanks to what I’ve been tweeting.

I was using the web interface supplied by Network Solutions to take care of some technical issues on some of my domains. I ran into what I’ll politely call a few “snags” (see this and this) and tweeted my frustrations. Within a few hours I was not only contacted via Twitter by two Network Solutions representatives, but was also contacted by phone by a senior Account Representative the very next day. The rep on the phone didn’t really understand how my account had been brought to his attention (read: has no earthly idea what Twitter even is), but he knew this – I had an issue with his company’s product, and he was told to fix it (read: shut me the hell up).

While talking about these issues last week, I also was tweeting about NetSol’s competitor, GoDaddy. Surprisingly, I was tweeted back by the GoDaddy representative on Twitter within a few hours. They were interested to hear about my issues with both NetSol and GoDaddy, and were willing to assist in whatever way they could.

Now get this: yesterday (the holiest day of the e-comm world known as CyberMonday), I got an e-mail offer from VMware, offering their software for half-price for the next 24 hours. I followed the link in the email and found that there was an issue with my existing account not letting me log in to purchase. I had been following @vmwarefusion on Twitter for a while, so I tweeted them about the issue and was tweeted back within fifteen minutes. Turns out my issue was not something easily fixed, so they contacted me by e-mail. Needless to say, by the end of the day I had purchased the software I wanted, and was happily tweeting about it.

But here’s the best use of Twitter for customer service that I personally have witnessed, from the nice tweeps over at Rackspace. I have been a client of theirs for about two years now, and have occasionally tweeted about it. This afternoon, I got a phone call from a member of their design crew, who had read some of my tweets about their DNS control panel (flashback to the NetSol issue the week previous). They have a web GUI that I use to administer my servers hosted there, and are about to launch a new web GUI – v6 in the next month or so that they have been beta-testing very quietly. The guy that called me wanted to know specifically what version of the GUI I have been using (both, actually) and what my impressions were of the new design vs. old. I have to say, I was very flattered.

The great thing about Twitter is that like the internet itself, it is constantly evolving. There are some people and brands out there who just don’t seem to get it, no matter how well known and respected they are (or appear to be). I won’t mention them here, I’m not really in the market to make any enemies at this point. I will however mention two whom I do think “get it” when it comes to Twitter – @mleis and @armano. From the writing side, Michael Leis gives us a great 1,000 word explanation of what’s going on in the twitterverse, and from the creative side, David Armano sums it up with a single picture.

Like their homepage says – Join the conversation.