We're not sure if you're aware, but on Tuesday of last week, T-Mobile had another major snafu. This time, it was a 6-hour service outage that was nationwide. Some users had no voice or data service for all 6 hours, some had loss of either data or voice, some lost one or both services for less than 6 hours and some were not affected at all. T-Mobile says it only affected 5% of their customers, but was certainly noticed by every one of their customers (and potential customers) on Twitter.
The outage dominated 4 of the 10 trending topics that day and therefore a large percentage of the conversations on Twitter. During all the hullabaloo, customers were trying to figure out what was going on and some major things happened:
Both of T-Mobile's telephone support lines were jammed with callers, making the lines stop functioning (customers would try to call, only to have the number become inoperable)
Their online customer service crashed due to the amount of people trying to talk to a customer service rep
Their entire website crashed intermittently with the amount of traffic received
So with no classical means of customer communications, how did they alert these folks, you ask? Twitter. Yes, Twitter. They posted a tweet about the issue and it quickly disseminated through the masses, spreading like wildfire. This is huge deal for social media, particularly in the wireless space. Relying on Twitter to spread the message illustrates several things:
T-Mobile has a social media strategy
T-Mobile has a strong following on Twitter
T-Mobile believes in Twitter enough that it was the medium they used to outreach to consumers
Like many other brands on Twitter and other social media channels like Facebook, having a presence in these popular social media channels allows them to leverage these spaces to deliver customer service ' whether it's part of their daily strategy or a 'when all else fails'? tactic. Having a voice on Twitter allowed T-Mobile to inform their customers and helped them put out the firestorm.
It will be interesting to see how brands like T-Mobile continue to intermix social media into their repertoires to interact with consumers in times of need. This is surely a sign of things to come.