Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Twitter support, your problems are far and wide

I recently posted about the lack of response from Twitter Support. I am unhappy to say that my issue has not been resolved yet. And as I've gone deeper and deeper down the Twitter support hole, I've learned just how broken the support department at Twitter actually is.

Most everyone is aware of the Twitter hack that happened earlier this month. My understanding is that it was due to security flaws in their support queue. Happily they fixed the issue by replacing their support queue with a new system called Zendesk ( they blog about this change at Twitter Blog: The Zen of Twitter Support ) and more recently rolled out Get Satisfaction for support as well.

I applaud the team for making changes in response to a problem, but, in my opinion, they really made a mess of things. Let me explain how.

First off, by removing the old support system, my existing tickets were deleted. I've been waiting over two months for a response and had to resubmit my ticket. Thanks Twitter.

Secondly, the new Zendesk support system has a MAJOR flaw. Your login for the system is your Twitter login. When you submit a support request via the web interface, it attaches the ticket to your Twitter account. That's fine and dandy, however Twitter recommends that people with a Terms of Service matter (that would be me) submit their request to

Do you see the fatal flaw yet?

The flaw is that tickets submitted via email don't attach to an account. As a result, you are unable to view responses from Twitter to that ticket.

Try it yourself. Logout of Twitter. Submit an email to You'll receive a confirmation email with a link to view the ticket. Click the link. You're taken to a page that says - "You do not have access to request #[ticket number]. It may have been deleted".


Did anyone at Twitter actually go through the process that you created? Because, it appears as if you didn't.

And finally, the rolling out of Get Satisfaction for support. Again, I applaud you for the effort, however, you now have two separate support systems! For a company that is already spread thin when it comes to support, does it make sense to add complexity?

This entire experience has led me to giving this advice to anyone looking to implement support for their customers.

  1. Respond to your tickets. Use a simple method of categorizing tickets by priority and assigning SLA's to each category. Assign someone the job of monitoring SLA's. If you are constantly missing them, maybe it's time to hire more people, or better yet review and improve your current process (Hint Hint Twitter).
  2. Experience your own support. This is unbelievably easy to do, but can give you invaluable insight. Submit a ticket as an end user, see what happens. Click on links, make sure they work. See how long it takes to get help. Again, simple, but really really effective.
  3. Use a central support system. Managing multiple systems is too much overhead and causes confusion for your customers. Besides, not all systems are created equal and they require varied methods for managing. Pick the right solution, and stick with it.

1 comment:

oblio said...

I'm currently going through an issue with impersonation, and I've been appalled at the absolute lack of response. Rather than go through the whole thing, I'll share a few bullets which annoy the $@@#% out of me.

* Emails to terms@ over the weekend did not create tickets. My latest and 4th!!! email created a ticket. So something is broken.
* The link to the ticket in the email brought me to a page saying that my ticket was unavailable or has been deleted. I'm guessing it might actually exist, and it's unavailable because I'm not logged in or that since it's an email-only ticket it doesn't match a user session. But this isn't a good message to give to users. They should addend the message for comfort for users who are creating tickets via email which don't match their twitter account and have active problems such as impersonators who are actively sending harassing messages to their friends from an account with their name.
* The email that I received when my email ticket was auto-created made no mention of the fact that this was a new ticket that was created based off of email. My first inclination was that perhaps another ticket I had already lodged had been updated. The informational text from the email about my ticket generation and the error message about the request being deleted led me to believe that they had CLOSED a prior ticket. As such I entered a duplicate ticket on my main account. Of course, no such action has been taken on any of the now 3 tickets I have about the problem. So much for the email being read by an actual person!
* I have support requests which have been open for up to a month now.
* Twitter support has deleted a number of aging support requests without so much of even a canned response, just showing that they really do not give a shit.
* They have not integrated logins to the point that your session would just persist from Twitter to the help system. If it's the same login, why do I have to login again?

In short, Twitter support sucks. Thanks guys!