Proactive customer service or twitter stalking damage control?

Over the last couple months I have started using Twitter every day. It took me 2 or 3 times trying it before I thought it wasnt completely useless and waste of time. Now that I am subscribed to a few news services that I find interesting like TechCrunch, Engadget, CBC News (but not interesting enough to add to my RSS feed), I can watch the headlines and click if I want but I wont cry if I miss it. Within a couple weeks Dell UK started following my Tweets. Very strange as I have never said a word about Dell on Twitter, nor have I ever owned a single Dell product and nor am I British, I am Canadian.

After I began Tweeting myself occasionally which has now become usually every day, there have been times where I have vented frustration with a particular product or company to my twitter followers (there are also times I have congratulated software companies ofcourse).

A month or two ago, one of my domains was expiring. GoDaddy (Dont Click!! NSFW 😛 ) was my registrar but after seeing some of the latest advertisements and seeing the company owner’s shameful blog I decided it was time to take my business elsewhere. I disabled domain auto-renewal and followed the instructions sent in the email to start the process of a domain transfer. A long story short is that GoDaddy charged me for the renewal of a “business” registration even though my domain was no longer with them. I became quite upset and vented my anger to my Tweeple, one of whom shared my dislike for GoDaddy and urged me to fight the charge (which ofcourse I did and got my money back within a week).

Not more than a few days later I received an email from someone at GoDaddy that found my Tweet online. Due to the very public nature of twitter, anyone can use Twitter Search to find just about anything. This gentleman (who was very polite and professional, unlike the company owner) had looked up my file, found the error and suggested a solution (which was already in process via support tickets), urging me to stay with GoDaddy. I thanked him and told him I appreciated his help but explained why I was changing registration companies. I never heard back.

I had another experience when I was speaking to the author of XBerry Live!, Xbox 360 program for the Blackberry about Cloud Hosting solutions offered by I knew he was a customer and I was interested enough and asked him some questions that I did not see answered on the company website. When I awoke the next morning, I had several more @replies from a GoGrid employee / cloud computing evangelist offering me more details and a $100 cupon. Wild! This guy found me and my conversation with another faster than I would have got an answer to a support inquiry!

I had another experience very recently. It was my sisters birthday recently and I wanted to send her a funny E-card. JibJab was one of Googles first page results and after previously seeing a delightfully stupid JibJib video of myself dancing with my wife and members of  her family I thought it might be worth a laugh. I found a funny card but could not send it until I became a member of JibJab, or so that page told me. I signed up and returned to the card I found, unexpecting another message stating I had to have a $16 paid membership to send that particular premium card. Fine, I thought, Ill settle for a less funny free one as I do not send E-cards very often. After spending another 5 minutes looking for a unexisting free e-card I wondered what was the point of a two-tiered membership if the free membership provides absolutely nothing! Again I vented my frustration to the Twitterverse looking for comfort. Within HOURS this time, @JibJab replied to my post sending me instructions to find the free cards, which were only to be found via a small, single text link contained at the bottom of the page beside the copyright notice.

I dont know what to think. Should I be impressed that these companies are taking such an interest in their products? Messaging users on a single mention of their company? Is this pro-customer or are companies doing this just as a public way and cheap way of damage control and to find potential customers? It also makes me rethink how smart it is saying certain things on Twitter, especially when I have experienced the very public nature of what I say, not expecting others that I do not intend to speak to to listen and respond to me. There are products now out that allow you to follow a person on Twitter, receiving everything that users says without actually subscribing (or sending the email alert) to the user. SCARY! I like Twitter but I really hope they give us some more security and privacy options in the future.