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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