Online customer services, especially in the Twitter realm, are at a unique junction where celebrities, businesses and "civilian" consumers are all looking for recognition and connection. This can leave a negligent company exposed, and if it doesn't take care to make its business efforts more user friendly, the opportunity to get called out on it and embarrassed is high.
What happened recently to British Airways, for example, could theoretically be repeated by anyone who has enough money and feels they are the victim of bad service. A story has been circulating regarding the actions taken by a man named Hasan Syed. The BBC reports that Syed took matters into his own hands by purchasing ad space on Twitter specifically to shame the airline after it failed to locate his father's bags.
The simple but brutal statement broadcast by Syed ("Don't fly British Airways. Their customer service is horrendous") has now been seen prominently by thousands of Twitter users, and in an age when news outlets routinely turn to Twitter for breaking information, placing this kind of message so prominently makes it exceedingly hard to ignore. Syed also followed this first post with several more disparaging tweets that went unanswered until the company's service line re-opened the next day.
British Airways has, for its part, apologized and reportedly was able to find the missing luggage, but the event has highlighted another way that the internet can be a place for customers to express their frustration. Companies that use internet services should see this as a warning of the types of measures that some customers are willing to go to in the quest for better service.