I was fortunate enough to be invited to the Travelling Geeks roundtable a couple of weeks ago hosted by Econsultancy. There were three tables and I was on the customer service one. One of the comments that arose from the various discussions was the impact social media, specifically Twitter, was having on customer service and how it was resulting in a kind of ‘customer service by shouting the loudest’ behaviour. The louder you shout, the more likely and more quickly you are likely to be heard and your complaint dealt with. Twitter is a perfect medium for this.

Over the last few days I’ve thought about this observation more and more. The more I think about it the more I think that actually it’s always been the case and will always be so: the louder you shout the more likely you are to be heard, and the more likely you are to be heard the more likely you are to have your complaint dealt with. The only difference now is the nature of the channel being used. Email, letter, fax and phone are for the most part limited to the person sending it and the person receiving it. Of course you can forward an email on, and there are instances of stories travelling the globe via email, but these are relatively few.

Twitter, on the other hand, is inherently a broadcast medium. Its entire being is about making information public. It’s a medium that not only allows me to shout, but also gives me the belief that I am being heard as well.

I have found through my customer service dealings with people via Twitter that often when people complain they do so because they are simply not being heard. They have tried emailing and phoning, often for months on end, but their complaint has seemingly fallen on deaf ears. They have turned to Twitter, almost as a last resort, one last enormous shout from the edge of a cliff into the wind. And for some unknown reason their tweet-complaint has been picked up within minutes and resolved within hours or days. Who wouldn’t want to shout on Twitter?