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Facebook, Twitter, YouTube. These are but a few of the services many of us have come to enjoy.

Yet there's one thing that seems anything but enjoyable about them: dealing with their customer service.

A few examples:

  • I've tried contacting YouTube about its Partner Program for a client. I was forced to take my client elsewhere because I never heard back.
  • A service called StatTweets was abruptly cut off by Twitter and the operators have been unable to get any response from Twitter.
  • An associate of mine has a high-profile client who is trying to get a fake fan page shut down on Facebook. No response for over a week. I wonder how long it took Crisitiano Ronaldo to get his fake profile taken care of.

In my experience, these types of situations are the rule, not the exceptions. In many cases, it appears that customer service is entirely absent at some of Web 2.0's most notable companies.

Obviously, there are some logical reasons for this: most Web 2.0 companies are relatively small, they have more engineers than customer service agents and, to be honest, they have very few 'customers'. It's easy to overlook customer service when you don't have any customers (or you have far more 'users' who never pay you a cent).

But none of this means that customer service isn't important to Web 2.0 companies, most of which fall under the categories of 'ad-supported' or 'don't yet know how we're going to make money'; if they are to ever develop into long-term businesses that can sustain themselves, they need to get with the program.

If Facebook is going to build strong relationships with key brand partners, you'd think it'd want to respond promptly to well-known rights holders. If Twitter is eventually going to charge for value-added features, you'd think it would take the time to demonstrate that it can respond to a person who has taken the time to build a service on top of its API.

Sam Walton, the founder of retail giant Walmart, owes much of his success to his focus on the customer. He once stated:

There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.

Most Web 2.0 companies don't even have the luxury of losing a customer; they're still at the stage of developing products and services worth buying and convincing enough people to spend their money on those products and services. Unfortunately, without Customer Service 1.0, I fear that many Web 2.0 companies may find themselves stuck in first gear.

Photo credit: striatic via Flickr.

Patricio Robles

Published 5 May, 2009 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

2380 more posts from this author

Comments (8)

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Lena

All very true.

Have tried contacting Twitter reg my account but no respnose yet - 3 months down the line. Social needs customer support - you'd expect social out of all sites to get it?

about 7 years ago

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Vincent

The title alone is spot on.  You didn't even need to write any more for it. 

In my experience as a user and as an employee of so-called web 2.0 service companies, it can be hard enough to get the support in English, let alone in the other languages many of these sites actually operate in.

If your goal is to make out like bandits from a buy out, customers, users or whatever, are the least of your worries and are most likely expendable. For every one you lose a bunch more gophers will come along.

about 7 years ago

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Ian Hendry

Don't tar all Web 2.0 companies with the same brush!  When many sites are in growth mode and are not yet realising the revenues in their plans, the only tradable currency is user numbers: Facebook and Twitter are where they are due to their users.  We are no different.  Each of our website members is hard won and we'll do all we can to keep them coming back and seeing the benefits of being a customer.  As such, we handle all member e-mails same day and will happily phone users who are experiencing the most difficulties or shout loudest against our policies.

Good customer service isn't that hard to do if you don't assume everything can be automated.

Ian Hendry
CEO, WeCanDo.BIZ
http://www.wecando.biz

about 7 years ago

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Marcos Saiz

I'm 100% with Vincent, the title says it all ... and it's true: Web 2.0 must have support.

We work for our customers, and take their needs seriously. That's why we are constantly improving our support processes (our average response time for support tickets and emails is currently less than one hour) and listening to customer feedback (via our forums, twitter and more).

Marcos Saiz

Feng Office

http://www.fengoffice.com

about 7 years ago

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Joseph Wail

Hi guys!

For my is a pleasure to leave my opinion in this splendid website an I wolud like to extend my congratulations to all the Feng Office crew because a few months ago I took the huge choice of managed all my company with Feng Office and I'm very happy with their support and kindness when something turns difficult.

So... what can I say? Are you talking 'bout customer Service related to the SAAS? You're talking about Feng Office!

to all the community: http://www.fengoffice.com

Bye guys and have a nice business day,

Joseph Wail

about 7 years ago

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seo

Nice to see a tutorial website that realizes good design. Thank you so much for everything you do to improve our creative.

over 6 years ago

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Hannai

Yes, I agree with you that web 2.0 should have customer support as well as they need to to move to another level. Facebook,twitter and youtube have lot's of customers and the number increasing every day. They should consider to improve customer support.

over 5 years ago

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ukash

The title alone is spot on. You didn't even need to write any more for it.

In my experience as a user and as an employee of so-called web 2.0 service companies, it can be hard enough to get the support in English, let alone in the other languages many of these sites actually operate in.

over 4 years ago

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