Twitter: A great way to complain

I was pleasantly surprised recently to find a practical use for Twitter. I’m no Luddite, but I rarely find a lot of value in Twitter that I don’t find elsewhere. I’m following a lot of tech writers/bloggers/developers and that can be good for keeping up with developing trends, but I digress.

The practical feature: Complaining.

We had a miserable experience at the local Red Robin recently (South Hill/Puyallup, WA). Dirty, long wait, poor waiter service, etc. I posted this on Twitter:

Just got back from #RedRobin — disgusting…. that place has really gone downhill. Too bad.

Notice the tag on RedRobin. I was surprised when I fairly promptly got a reply on Twitter:

@andrewflanagan Yikes! Can you please send us the details/location at [email protected]? Thanks for your help.

The beauty of this is that anyone searching on Twitter for RedRobin will find my tag and see my post and my rotten rating. I sent an email, they replied (CC’ing a huge number of Red Robin staff) and I was asked if I wanted to talk to the manager.

This is pretty good service. My blog (yes, this one) is not exactly all that busy and I could have posted here for weeks without anyone at Red Robin being aware of it (or even if they were aware, they wouldn’t care since it’s not exactly all that visible).

So Twitter gives you visibility. Not just to a company, but to that company’s customers. I suppose it’s a little bit more like picketing a store instead of sending a letter to the management (which is more like a blog entry).

I also recently had an issue getting approved for our Bizspark account with Microsoft (you get free software — essentially an MSDN subscription — as well as help with your start up). Again I complained, and again I got a quick response (which was very civil). Interestingly, when I followed up via email, I was asked (somewhat rudely I would say) to remove my complaining post from Twitter. I complied, since they did fix the problem, but I’m somewhat surprised by just how much visibility I got.

What are your thoughts? Will the visibility last? Any similar experiences using Twitter or other social networks?

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