How to Respond to Criticism: Twitter Style

Twitter is the poster child of Web 2.0. It’s pretty hip, it’s innovative, it’s grown exponentially, and despite having no clear business model, is considered to be extremely successful. I don’t use Twitter personally, but I know plenty of people that do, and most of them like the service a lot. One of the biggest criticisms of the product, though, is that its reliability is shaky at best.

Critics and the company itself have blamed the relibality issues on different things. Some say its because the site uses Ruby (a programming framework), others say it is because the site’s infastructure isn’t well designed, and others just say the site has been growing too fast for any team to keep up with. All of the issues have their respective truths, but what is more interesting to me as a customer service person is how they’ve responded and handled their issues of downtime.

The word is that Twitter used to be okay at best when it came to responding to feedback and criticism. However, the company has recently gotten a lot better. They’ve gotten so good that journalists and users have been openly applauding the company for being so responsive. Even, the often negative TechCrunch said in a recent post that Twitter “continues to be annoyingly and constructively responsive to criticism.”

If you read Twitter’s response to TechCrunch’s questions, the commentary makes sense; Twitter has been very responsive and they’ve been doing a great job at it.

First of all, Twitter admits their faults and says positive changes are coming soon. By saying “we know it is not correct and we’re changing that,” and explaining how they are changing that (by bringing on quite a experienced engineers to their team), they’re covering a major issue right there. Once they address those important issues, they answer TechCrunch’s specific questions with pretty good answers. They don’t get too technical (they got a little more technical in another post), but they do answer the questions and address how they’re going to move forward.

Twitter also has a status web site that shows the company is serious about their uptime as well as about being open and transparent. The status page contains updates and useful links (including a link to a third-party uptime monitoring service). It is just an additional level of transparency that makes the company seem even more open and responsive to downtime.

Twitter has done a great job at responding to feedback and keeping a positive image. A lot of companies can learn a lot from Twitter’s actions when dealing with these issues.

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One Response to “How to Respond to Criticism: Twitter Style”

  1. Service Untitled» Blog Archive » Admitting and responding. said:

    Jan 07, 09 at 1:17 am

    […] issue they need to address publicly every few months or so. The last major response that I covered was back in June when Twitter was responding to criticism surrounding their less than perfect uptime and […]