Around five years ago I was pacing around my flat holding a bowl of cereal, waiting to get through to the customer service manager for a client of ours.

I wasn’t at work that day, but a colleague had just advised me that this manager had decided his business did not want to have a Twitter account.

I was on hold, waiting to tell him ‘tough’.

He explained to me that he did not want to have to try and service his customers in under 140 characters, that the idea was ludicrous and unworkable, that it would not happen and so they could not have an account on Twitter. Again, I told him ‘tough’.

Having a Twitter presence was not his choice nor anyone at the company, it was out of their hands. It wasn’t in my hands, nor my colleagues’ hands either – the choice belonged to just one entity, the customers themselves.

I explained that regardless of how he wanted to service his customers, his customers would take to Twitter. And it’s much better to be in control of a Twitter handle than to either ignore it and let people rant at it, sharing their grievances, or worse, for someone else to pretend they are you.

As much as it pained him  – a man I know to be very passionate about treating customers well – he was wise enough to understand it was a must, not an option, and of course the Twitter account was created. Since then it’s become a well-run account with a dedicated team at the business taking care of customers, politely ushering them to chat via DM and to get things resolved as quickly as possible, often quicker than over the phone and certainly quicker than a to-and-fro letter-writing debacle.

Over the following year, this practice became the norm – and soon customers across the world, across all industries, were expecting a response to a Tweet within an hour.

So why, oh why, has DPD (not our client) decided to chuck it all in?

This tweet –  (which followed a typo’d one where they’d put a URL instead of an email address) sits atop their Twitter feed.

A Twitter feed which proudly displays this image as the cover:

It’s all very well saying they believe in talking to each other nicely, but all they’ve done is ran away. Leaving mobs of disgruntled users frantically spreading their issues across Twitter.

All they appear to have done… is lose control of the conversations.

Why? Who knows. Having dealt with lots of service managers who don’t necessarily ‘get’ social media I can imagine the decision was taken by someone who does not quite understand the impact it might have.

If I had an issue with DPD, what would I do now? Ring them? Probably not as my hearing is not great over the phone, I much prefer a text conversation. Maybe I could email them? The tweet does say to email – which seems a bit of an ironic address, when you think about it.

Would that stop me Tweeting my annoyance? Heck no, if anything I’d make a childish jibe about how they daren’t interact with me publicly, because I’m a bit petty like that when my parcel of important things has gone missing.

For me, and the colleague here that brought my attention to this tweet, it seems baffling that a company of that size should just abandon one of the major sources of customer interaction… 

Would they abandon a call centre? Shut down their emails? Stop opening their post? I doubt it very much.

It seems, perhaps, someone doesn’t quite get how important Twitter is.

Don’t like it? Tough.

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