Telstra faces backlash on Twitter

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Telstra faces backlash on Twitter

Telstra BigPond’s foray into Twitter has been widely criticised by social media experts and even the ISP’s own customer service staff, blog posts reveal.

The service, which was launched by BigPond’s email support team last week, promised to monitor Twitter feeds for customer issues and then proactively offer support.

But the majority of support ‘offers’ made so far have been criticised as being little more than botnet-generated responses directing users to fill out a standard customer service web form.

“@lisaharvey BigPond® fault? Ask for technical advice by clicking this link http://tinyurl.com/5ufhvf & a consultant will email you back,” one Tweet reads.

The same response was sent to multiple Twitter users, drawing the ire of social networking experts who criticised the telco for not finding out how to openly engage with the community before jumping in.

“The responses on the account are full of noncommital, anonymous, boilerplate text,” Stephen Collins, founder of web 2.0 start-up acidlabs, wrote in a blog post.

“It’s just the sort of thing that’s anathema to both good customer service and the kind of open, honest, human conversation that is critical in social networks.”

“Telstra is twittering, but it reads like a bot. Don’t they know anything about the social web??” added prolific Aussie blogger, Alister Cameron.

The posts prompted a BigPond support staffer, identified as Steven Neville, to apologise to the community.

“Upon hearing that we had finally started using Twitter I checked it out and went for an immediate face slap,” Neville wrote.

“Instead of actively engaging customers in a true, helpful dialogue we’ve gone for the 'Legal’s said this is ok' bot responses. I can go on, but my disappointment has already been covered by others above.

“I can only hope that we quickly get away from the strict, 'spun by PR / approved by Legals' approach and truly embrace social media,” he said.

However, his thoughts were not immediately echoed by Telstra’s social media representative, Peter Habib, who took the unusual step of criticising the community they are trying to engage.

“I guess it is far too easy to ‘have a go’ at corporates who move into social media, just because of who they are. And not many corporates in this country have forayed into new media,” Habib posted.

“We’re happy to keep pioneering and improving as we move along.”

That response drew a stinging rebuke from Blogwell’s Lidija Davis, who said: “Having a go at you is not what I did here - trust me - you would have known [if I had].”

Despite the criticism, the feed has attracted approximately 80 followers at the time of writing, prompting Habib to suggest the exercise had already been a success.

“Great to see what we are doing is getting noticed,” he said.
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