Why Big Brands Dodge Your Direct Questions on Twitter
A large number of big consumer brands interact with people on twitter 24/7. Many use it to collect valuable customer feedback. For others, it’s a marketing tool which can be nicely disguised as a customer service tool.
They don’t answer a direct question
As soon as someone complaints, the brand’s goal no.1 is to stop the public discussion about the matter. It is mainly by confronting complainer to direct message (DM) customer number, phone number or email. Once you comply, you are forced to discuss things in private and you are at their mercy.
They will use the fact that you can only focus on this for so long. May be you skip it altogether considering the effort. Or just calm down thinking someone’s on it. Congratulations: You have started playing a psychological game with an expert.
One assumption is that brands are doing it to protect your privacy by not revealing your details on public. We can excuse these cases giving benefit of doubt. But is that really true every time?
Look at what type of issues receive such treatment? Do they really need to check your account first before answering? But many repeated complaints are about possible unethical practices that does not require your co-ordinates to answer.
A public discussion on it usually spreads quickly due to the network effects Twitter can create. So brands want to stop it as soon as possible. But at the same time they want to reap the benefit of the unethical practice too.
So they force you to to come to Direct Messages to discuss the issue. If you have an issue, possibly with the questionable practices the company has, quite likely that a lot of people have the same issue and company has some advantage in letting the issue persist. They may keep answering the same queries again and again for months or years without actually solving it.
The master blaster
Many proudly say that they had a particular issue X with a brand and how they solved it by calling the customer service and “blasting” them over.
Great work. Solved the issue!
Well, may be not. Ask yourself: Why do they have the issue X in the first place? Why do they need you to have to call them to solve it? Your ‘blasting’ won’t stop them do something similar with you again.
Well, it’s possible that the issue is there for a reason. It may not be a mistake at all. You give the benefit of doubt to a teenager, but not to a top company in the field. Even if you are interacting with there is a person, the company is not a person but a set of policies.
What can customers do?
Coming back to twitter issue: One holistic way to solve this is to focus on your conversation channel. Do interact with the brand through DM if you wish but do not stop talking things in public. Bring the brand to discuss things on your timeline. By silencing you, they are going to do this with everybody all over again. Be a good netizen and let’s eliminate the root cause of the problem; not just this particular instance of the problem.
What should the brands do?
Come down from the sky to the ground zero. Do not ask your customers to come in terms with you. Reach them in a channel they are comfortable with. If you get large number of questions on twitter, plan for a better task force there. Readjust your spending to where it really matters.
If someone at your firm comes up with a strategy that involves misleading or outright tricking your customer, have the balls to say No.