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Twitter Needs to Up its Customer Experience Game - the Limits of Self-Help

August 31, 2012

My Twitter (News - Alert) account got hacked. You can read about my Twitter nightmare in my previous posting so that you do not fall victim as well. This unfortunately was not the first time. Given that it was probably the work of a nasty rootkit it may not be the last.  

The reason I bring this problem up again, and do so for the pages of the contact center solutions community, is because it highlights an interesting challenge as well as an unpleasant fact of life.

  • Challenge: Self-help is only as good as its level of helpfulness. In the case of Twitter, it is problematic (see what follows below).
  • Unpleasant fact of life: Increasingly you cannot talk to a real person at a technology company. Do not even think about attempting to actually use your voice in real-time to interact with anyone from AOL, Google (News - Alert), Facebook, or for that matter any tech company that has more than a handful of mass market customers that is in the “social” space. In a word, that experience is HOPELESS.

As we all know from when we have issues were sophisticated software tech talk ain’t cheap, and the probability of having your problem solved in an expeditious manner, assuming you actually speak with the right person with the right training and tools to solve your problem can take time. In fact, there should be an app that we can execute that puts support on the meter so we can be compensated for our time once a threshold of reasonableness is exceeded.    But I digress.

All a twitter!

I will be brief. When I got the several hundred direct messages that are the signature of a certain type of hack, as well as messages from my followers that I had been hacked, I went to Twitter HELP. I clicked through starting with SETTINGS, Help, Something’s not working, My Account is Compromised/Hacked and I Can't Log In!. I then reset my password which did not help the first time, revoked third-party applications and updated my password in third-party-applications as instructed. The messages kept flowing. I even got a message at 2:00 AM from Twitter that my account was experiencing uncharacteristically bad behavior and I should DUH! “RESET YOUR PASSWORD.” 

Awake and frustrated I went to Google and typed in “Twitter malware protection.” It took me to this page on entitled Malware Links on Twitter With Text “It’s You on Photo?” Aha! Looks like I was the victim of the Blackhole exploit kit. This led me to AVG antivirus protection which I installed and so far @berniebernstein on Twitter seems safe. 

The question that arose from this customer experience was why didn’t Twitter’s help section let me in on this vital piece of truly helpful information. There is a link on the “Welcome! How can we help you? Page for updates from Twitter support. I clicked the one that described my problem and below is a view of what resides there.

 Not exactly enlightening. Worse, when you click on the link to the article all it does is take you back to the “My Account Has Been Compromised” page. OMG! I was stuck in a loop. Not helpful!

I sent Twitter @support a message and asked for help. I ran different malware and rootkit detection programs and they all came back with my computer being clean. My problem is that since this is the third time this has happened after multiple password changes it would seem that Blackhole has gotten smarter and may have gone undetected because it was asleep and will wake up to get me again. 

Twiiter @support sent me a very nice note that they had received my message and they’d get back to me. I am still waiting and not holding my breath.

The point is that self-help can only go so far. In this case not enough unless you consider my time spent researching the issue an adjunct of Twitter @support. The other point is that at the end of the day, I really needed to talk with somebody. I use this Twitter account for business purposes only and it is important to my job that is works and does so without annoying my followers. Am I likely to have the chance to discuss this we a Twitter expert? The answer once this is published is likely to be yes. Are you likely to have the same type of service? Do not count on it. 

That last observation goes to the heart of the problem. The irony of tech companies that are supposed to make our lives easier and provide us tools to amongst other things enable us to offer “improved customer experiences” is striking given the inability to have a good customer experience with companies like the social networking crowd. They could all take a lesson from Amazon who really knows how to treat you, as was amplified only today when they superbly dealt with a billing issue that was a result of unauthorized use of a credit card that my identity guard capability picked up — two examples in the e-commerce ecosystem I rely on who also know how to treat customers.

Message to Twitter et al, you need to listen to the VOICE OF THE CUSTOMER and not just their tweets. 

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO West 2012, taking place Oct. 2-5, in Austin, TX.  Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO (News - Alert). Follow us on Twitter.

Edited by Brooke Neuman

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