failwhaleRecent message exchanges with a major mobile phone company have made me think about the role Twitter plays in establishing, building and maintaining customer relationships. Such a short message by nature needs to be succinct and to the point, not something that the majority of big companies have managed in their comms for many years.

This particular mobile phone company picked up on my disgruntled whinge about poor 3G signal, not in the highlands of Scotland but in a part of the country where any mobile phone user would surely expect to have the strongest fastest connection available – especially given the networks 3G maps that Ofcom has on its site. I was quite impressed with the request for more information and the suggestion that this company – not my provider – would be able to do a better job for me. So I responded.

There have been a few more exchanges since and the negotiations – through just 140 characters or less – has lead to this “other” provider now top of my list for when I can afford to change contracts. Not willing to wholly buy me out of my existing contract at this time was at first a disappointment but then business sense took over and the offer to go halves with me seemed pretty reasonable.

What has been missing though is any form of communication from my current provider. Not even recognition that there could be a problem, let alone recognition that a major competitor is taking over my “first name terms” relationship. In my mind this is a major miss, in Twitter speak #fail.

I am not suggesting that the two companies go into a bidding war over a solitary, slightly disgruntled customer, but where one is taking advantage of this new way to personally interact with a potential client the other is majorly missing a trick. Surely customer relationship management 140 characters at a time makes sense, but knowing when to enter into a conversation and when not to is the key. Here one has just about got it right and the other has missed a trick.

© Mike Seyfang “Twitter fail whale” Photo. Attribution 2.0 Generic

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