Twitter Trumps Telephone

23 03 2011

This is not about me. But someone I live with. She owns a small business in Venice, CA. Her name is Julia. This post more about conveying information than creating art, but I find the information to be important and the revelation to be relatively stunning.

Julia recently had a very serious problem with her phone service. Verizon, the leader in terrible customer service, shut her phone service off unexpectedly. Give or take an hour or two here and there, her business was without phone service for almost two weeks. For a business that relies on its phone for customers to call and make appointments for which they pay money, this was an affliction not unlike the Black Plague. It literally could have killed her.

So she took to the web, increased her Twitter specials, and encouraged clients to make appointments via email or through Twitter itself. But that is not the point. Verizon has always had a reputation for terrible service, and they no doubt showed their true colors through this ordeal. Julia estimates that she spent somewhere between 10 and 12 hours on hold for representatives, each one who when finally they appeared on the other end told her a different story about why the service had been cut off and when it would be turned back on. Ultimately, someone over there got the story straight and they unanimously told her it would be 10 days before the phone would be back on. 10 days had already passed.

Enter Twitter. I remembered reading a blog by a guy who was skiing at Vail and had a problem with the experience, so he tweeted the CEO and almost immediately received an answer. So I suggested she find someone at Verizon on Twitter and send them a message. Who she found was @VerizonSupport. Whether they are trying to validate their existence against the traditional phone service I am not sure. But after a few messages back and forth to diagnose Julia’s issue, they provided a direct line to a supervisor they promised would solve the issue. This may not seem like a big deal, but this came after anonymous drone representatives who refuse to tell you their last names and who insist that they cannot refer your situation to a supervisor, only to a “technical specialist” or whatever.

Of course, we were doubtful at first, because of the terrible service so far. But after some tense words regarding the urgency of the situation, this supervisor was able to get the phone working again within an hour.

In this case, Twitter gave Julia an alternative to the apathy usually encountered on the phone. I dig it. Barriers are falling. We do have access. And as the old ways resist, it will only push us further into the new generation.