Have a complaint with cable company Comcast? Don't bother calling their helpline: Instead write a blog entry or, better still, send a 'tweet' or two via Twitter threatening to "expend significant energy over the next three weeks trashing Comcast." That's the lesson taught by TechCrunch founder and co-editor Mike Arrington, after his Comcast broadband connection went down for 36 hours.
"Within 20 minutes of my first Twitter message I got a call from a Comcast executive in Philadelphia who wanted to know how he could help", writes Arrington in a blog post on TechCrunch.
[the Comcast executive] said he monitors Twitter and blogs to get an understanding of what people are saying about Comcast, and so he saw the discussion break out around my messages.
Shortly thereafter, the cable company sent out a team to fix Arrington's connection and "apologized profusely", which, as the TechCrunch editor notes, "is great for me but doesn’t help the other customers who don’t think to complain publicly about the company."
Commenters on Arrington's post rightly ask the question: would Comcast have been as proactive if the public complaints weren't coming from an A-list blogger? In reply, Arrington admits it's "a good question", but says that since he didn’t originally publish Comcast's failings on TechCrunch or any of his other blog properties, the cable company's reaction was definitely based on his Twitter message. "There were a lot of responses very quickly to my message, which may have been the reason for such a speedy response, but there just isn’t enough data to know."
Another commenter, Siobhan, chimes in: "Actually, they monitor a lot of blogging tools and sites. I have a friend who uses LiveJournal who got an email within about 24 hours of complaining about her Comcast service from a legitimate customer service rep, and they sent a tech out to help within a day. So they’re doing it whether you’re Michael Arrington or the average Joe on the street."
In conclusion, Arrington says that his experience is proof that Comcast is "doing at least one thing right" in having identified blogs, and Twitter in particular, as an "early warning system to flag possible brand implosions."