That Magical Tweet

January 3rd, 2010

I Heart Twitter the Customer Support Channel

December 31. There I was, doing year-end bookkeeping (what, is there another time to do it?). I realized it was time to cancel my shmancy monthly plan on, the nifty online file storage and sharing site. I had needed password protection for a project that had ended, so I could go back to the free plan.

Except I had forgotten that makes you prepay, and that the upcoming month had kicked in a few days before. I was reminded of this by a nasty phone rep. And that’s all I’m gonna say about her.  Surely she was not going to refund the prorated amount of my all-but-unused monthly fee ($19.95), no matter how sweetly or logically I argued my case. Her supervisor, I was told, did not take calls, so I’d have to pursue it via a form on their Web site.  To make a long story short, he was similarly unmovable and unpleasant.

So I turned to that most modern of customer support channels. I went to the Twitter page and tweeted that I’d just had a terrible customer service experience. No more than 20 minutes later, there was an e-mail in my Inbox from the Director of Support asking if there was anything he could do to help. I explained the situation.

Shortly after, I received an e-mail from Mr. Nas T. Supervisor, profusely apologizing for my negative experience and explaining that of course they would make an exception and refund the entire month.

That was followed by another e-mail from the director dude, apologizing as well. But wait. There’s more:

From: [Mr. Supportive] []
Sent: Thursday, December 31, 2009 12:11 PM
Subject: Re: Refund Request [Incident: xxxxxxxx]


First, let me apologize for this entire support experience. Second, I have spoken to our Billing department and we will be issuing a refund. While it is normally true that we don’t officially give refunds for monthly charges, we also do look at these things on a case by case basis.

That said, it is never ok to be treated rudely in any event. I am sorry for your experience and will speak to the rep in question to make sure this kind of thing does not happen again.

I know it does not undo anything, but I am also sending along an Amazon gift card via email. Please let me know if I can help in any other way.

-[Mr. Supportive]


And indeed, a $25 gift card* immediately appeared in my Inbox. Now that’s something you don’t see every day.

Unnecessary? Certainly. Over the top? Probably. But he sure did make it clear that they value my business. And will go to great lengths to keep folks from posting negative reviews on’s Twitter page. He’s not alone.

A friend recently told me that her Zappos shoe order hadn’t arrived as quickly as she’d thought (though was in no way late). Her husband Tweeted about it, and a few hours later Zappos had not only comp’d her that pair but sent her another pair for good measure.

All this effective but expensive good will can’t last, or can it? With blogs like Mashable publishing how-to articles on using Twitter for customer service (nb: no mention of free stuff but plenty on the monitoring tools that give Mr. Supportive virtual eyes in the back of his head), we may be in for yet more pleasant surprises about the power of the consumer.

Got a similar tale to tell? Do tell.

* I used the gift certificate to buy Andrew McAfee’s Enterprise 2.0 (which you should run, not walk to your computer to order), then donated $25 to a local emergency food bank to get things back in karmic balance.

    • Christine Frisbee said:
    • I use this practice when we make a mistake or do not do something as we should. We sell a snore reduction pillow among other things. The orders go to a fulfillment house and there can be errors. When a customer expresses they are disappointed I always apologize and throw in something to make them realize we are trying hard but things happen. The customers really appreciate it.

      Saw you on HARO. It’s a great site.


    • Deb Arnold said:
    • Thanks for your comment, Christine, and kudos on letting your customers know they matter. I think consumers understand that things are going to go wrong – the question is what the company is prepared to do to acknowledge the issue, accept responsibility, offer a sincere apology and, depending on the situation, make some compensatory gesture. I would have been happy with the refund and an apology. But you really can’t blame the rep – they’re only as good as the company’s customer service culture has guided them to be.


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