While the marketers announce prize winners and retweet influencers, you get to write 15 variations on the phrase “unplanned maintenance.” Your main company handle is the one that gets all the customer love while on the @help account, you’re the online equivalent of those inflatable punching bags, being pummeled at a children’s party and popping right up for more.
It wouldn’t be so bad if you didn’t actually care about the customers. If you could just tweet back the same inane “Please share your ticket number and we’ll look into that!” phrase, even when it clearly doesn’t make sense.
But no, you care. And so you read the conversation before you reply. You check the hashtags. You spend a frankly embarrassing amount of time on Know Your Meme so you don’t accidentally tweet at a hate group.
Even then you don’t reply right away. You check your internal systems to find the right customer to see what they’ve said to customer service, because a) you know that’s way better than asking the customer to repeat themselves, and b) you know that the story a customer tells publicly is rarely the whole story.
Then you write a response. A good one. One that’s kind but doesn’t promise any specifics; that shows you’re informed without sharing anything private; and that makes sense for the customer now but also for any random internet citizen who sees it retweeted into their timeline later.
And you squeeze it all into a tiny text box. You trim every piece of unnecessary punctuation, desperately wishing there was a shorter way to say, “You know you’re wrong, you know I know you’re wrong, and I know you know I cannot say you’re wrong, so let’s just both back away from the keyboard and live to tweet another day.” You think the Germans probably have a word for that.
Every day you’re performing these small feats of linguistic magic, live on stage, in front of an indeterminately large audience who, sure, are friendly right now, but that at any moment might decide to rush the stage waving all-caps hashtag signs and demanding you be fired (or worse). And you’re not exactly earning the big danger money in this gig, are you? No, you are not.
It’s not an easy life, social media support. But sometimes, maybe most times, you really do help. You find someone who’s stuck and struggling, and you use the powers you do have to get them what they need. You navigate them through the maze of policies and partner agreements like Theseus if he, instead of trying to kill the Minotaur, had been trying to get him a refund on his Roomba that kept getting lost when trying to recharge — even though the warranty specifically excludes labyrinths.
Because you’re one of the good ones.
So don’t give up. Don’t let the crappy, automated, social media customer service robots overwhelm us.
We need you.