AT&T Trawls Twitter for Customer Gripes

Irked with your AT&T service? Dead spots in your home? Lost a call on your iPhone for the umpteenth time? Now you don't have to spend hours on hold calling it in — just tweet it, and Ma Bell will pick up.

Irked with your AT&T service? Dead spots in your home? Lost a call on your iPhone for the umpteenth time? No need to call customer service. Just tweet your gripe.

AT&T is using software to mine Twitter-based bashing of the company. A two-tiered filtration process pulls any tweets mentioning AT&T, then further refines those that appear to mention service ("dropped call" or "3G" are two terms it pays attention to). According to Technology Review, AT&T says the system pulls up genuine complaints 90% of the time — and the information registers 20 minutes earlier, on average, than a customer service call.

AT&T then notes the time and location of the tweet, and integrates that information into its databases and uses it to prioritize its maintenance work. So, if you feel your neighborhood has been neglected, you could organize a massive tweet-in with folks in your local café.

And if your tweets aren't public, or if the idea of AT&T mining them creeps you out, there's always the company's iPhone app, Mark the Spot. With the push of a few buttons, you can inform AT&T of your location and the type of problem you're experiencing (dropped calls, slow data, and the like).

With so many different ways to complain, that much maligned service should be improving in no time, right? Not really — it'll take a little more actual infrastructure to pacify those legions of angry iPhone owners. All the Twitter-mining in the world won't erect new cellphone towers in New York and San Francisco — but it may at least tell the company exactly where it should build them.

[Images: Flickr user shiyazuni]

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  • Corlos Benton

    I have been visiting the AT&T U-verse facepage for a little over two months trying to get information concerning the hallmark channels not being broadcast. The facebook page continues to get worse. Name calling, belittling people for their comments. It is like entering a black hole. When I find a statement confirming that AT&T will no longer negoiate with Hallmark or that they have come to an agreement I will never enter that black hole again. I do not understand why a corporation as large as AT&T would allow their image to be darkened so much. I am becoming so disappointed in AT&T which I always felt represented integrity.

  • Corlos Benton

    I have been an AT&T customer since 1967. I have all of my service with them.. I would not have signed with AT&T U-verse if they had not had the Hallmark Movie Channel in thier line-up. I picked the U300 package because of the Hallmark Movie Channel. I would prefer to stay with U-verse but not at the price of loosing the Hallmark Movie Channel. If only U-verse would update their customers as to whether they were negoiating or plan to negoiate with Hallmark, I could make the decission as to staying with AT&T or going to another provider. There is expense in changing providers plus the hassle. So once I've left, I will not return. I would like to know AT&T U-verse, what can we expect and I would like to know what networks they have reached an agreement with and which ones will be next. No more lost channels. We want to know.

  • Chheang Yang

    ha... i gave up verizon after 7 years for the iphone. the phone is a brick if you're in any major city during any major event. I live in the silicon valley and the phone continually drops my calls day and night. I keep hearing that ATT is spending billions (with a B!!!), but i've yet to see service improved. hopefully spending money to scrape and log tweets will prove more fruitful.

  • misterarthur

    They're fast. (replying to angry tweets). But so far, can't fix anything. I live in an "orange" area (fully covered) and a "blue area" (full wireless broadband), according to AT&T's map. Yet, I get one non 3G bar in my house, and little more outside. I also get switched to Canadian towers when I go upstairs, and an immediate message from AT&T saying I'm being charged International Roaming rates ($15/mb). AT&T says they're "building new towers." But that's the same thing they've said for a year. While AT&T was quick to say "can I help" via Twitter, I responded, and got no reply from the official AT&T customer service Twitterer.