The Power of Twitter in Customer Service

I’ve written before on the responsiveness of corporate customer service (or lack there of) with comments on Twitter. Even if a company, or in this case, a government agency doesn’t have a presence, the importance of monitoring what people are saying about them, and responding to issues or concerns is crucial.

When I tweeted pictures of overflowing trash cans in my neighborhood at the DC Department of Public Works, I did not expect a response, or at least not a real one. Instead what I got back was a question – where is this? Between a heat wave and huge storm I assumed the trash collection was towards the bottom of the city’s to-do list. What was irritating was the overflow from two construction sites on either side of the circle, and general trash left from passersby and the occasional homeless person. My issue was not so much the trash, as the side effects.

In a heat wave it’s almost as if the trash multiplies because of the smell. Soon rats were more visible than in the past – making it hard to tell if there was an increase in the number of them hanging around, or if they had just been emboldened by the new food potential. When I finally saw a rat running down the sidewalk instead of trying to stay hidden in bushes or under cars, I decided it needed to be shared. I chose to use pictures and Twitter for a very simple reason. It’s public.

I tweeted photos of the mess.


A day after the response I took pictures of a slightly cleaner mess. I have no déjà who was responsible for putting the trash surrounding the cans in bags – which were then left sitting next to the cans – but thank you. It was a step in the right direction.


The day after that, everything was clean.


Victory! And did I mention I didn’t expect a response?

I’ve had bad customer service before and I usually turn to social media to share it – often in the hopes of the company actually taking future action to prevent the same situation from happening to someone else. And many, many times I’ve been disappointed. But a government agency responding to, and correcting something this quickly and paying attention to what people are saying about them seemed especially shocking to me.

The only other such victory I’ve had was when an online order was sent to the wrong address. I tweeted sadly that my Clinique order seemed to be lost. They immediately responded saying they would contact me to correct the matter. They did – and resent my order. To be honest – in that situation I knew there would be a better outcome – because I’ve had help from Clinique before. So what happens when I don’t get a better response? If it’s at all possible (so in the case of government agencies or utilities disregard), I’m much less inclined to continue doing business with the company. Why bother if I’m not going to have help when I need it. Which reminds me – I have a LG TV that needs fixing.


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