Twitter: Where People Go to Complain About Other Social Networks

It’s no wonder that people turn to Twitter for tech support. In the heat of a frustrating moment, it is much easier to fire off a quick question on Twitter than to wait on hold for an operator. But how effective is the microblogging site as a customer service tool? Here’s how Spotify, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Yelp handled some tough customers.

“How do I go about reporting a bug with the current client release?,” wrote a user to the @spotify Twitter handle. “There’s a problem when creating new playlists.”

Spotify might be better known for its Facebook presence, but the music site’s Twitter team was on top of it. That same day, @spotify wrote back, “Please contact our support team and send them a screenshot of the bug” The link goes to a question submission form. On the same page are links to a support forum and FAQ section where users can look up the answers themselves.

The FAQs are usually more of an instruction manual covering basic “getting started” questions. Like, they’ll tell you where the “on” button is on your computer, but not what to do if you push it and nothing happens. Support forums, which are usually available on a company’s website, are often the best way to get a solution to a technical issue. If one person is having difficulty with an application, chances are high that many other people are as well. And it’s amazing how many technically savvy, articulate people there are online who will post the answers to these questions for free.

When the support team isn’t taking screen captures, the website doesn’t have the answers,  and there is no hotline to call, customers will do anything to reach out to a real person who might be able to help. Getting the question into the hands of the right person on Twitter can be a challenge, especially if users decide to go straight to the top. LinkedIn administrators had to step in on behalf of CEO Jeff Weiner, who got this query from a user:

“Haven’t been able to post from blog to LI Groups for nearly one month,” the user complained to @jeffweiner. “No end in site. I know you’re the CEO, but can you help?”

It’s tough when the customer service reps only have 140 characters to respond to an issue. After a couple of follow-up questions to assess the problem, @LinkedIn wrote back, “Hmmm, ok. We are looking into it. Thanks for being patient.”

Pinterest tried nipping the customer service complaints in the bud by announcing a scheduled maintenance issue before users had time to discover it on their own. “The Search bar is temporarily down while we make some updates,” they wrote. “It’ll be back in the top-left soon – thanks for your patience!”

Thanking a customer for their patience, even those who are clearly not patient, is a good move. Twitter is a very public forum for conducting a heated discussion, especially if the customer is riled up.

The issues also have a much longer lifespan on the Internet than they do on the phone. Yelp got a mention in this nasty tweet from a user: “Just discovered this story about how evil @yelp is. Had no idea!” The article outlined the details of a lawsuit against the company that was later dismissed.

The Yelp team stayed cool. “That story is 3 years old and debunked:,” they pointed out.

For any site that wants to be liked, followed and favorite-d by its users, the best way to show you care is to give people a place to do what they do best: complain. That place, at least for now, is Twitter.

Image by Maluson via Shutterstock.