It possibly can!

Our resident, social media favorite, in India, ex-Minister Shashi Tharoor sent a strange tweet last night. It said,

Hugely frustrated by Norton Security. Paid for &downloaded software, recd product key, but everytime I try to activate, am told key invalid”

Did he try calling customer support? May be. May be not.

Did he email Norton’s service guys? May be. May be not.

Did he tweet to vent his frustration? Oh yes, he did!

Just think about it – here, let me give you an example of how that looks like, in real life.

You are watching a phenomenally interesting match (cook up any sport – I’m not into sports). The cable connection (DTH?) snaps and you welcome it with a ‘What the F***?’. Your first instinct then is to reach out to your phone and call up the cable guy. If you have been put on hold by the cable guy or haven’t got the right response, you’re less likely to do it. So, the best thing you can do is sulk, given the circumstances.

But, there is another thing you can do these days. That is….open your balcony door….or simply get down to the central, common area in your apartment and shout at the top of your voice….’My cable TV has snapped – what can I do now? I so wanna see that match!’.

That, in essence, is what we all end up doing on Twitter. Since it’s real-time, people who are in their houses, when you shouted, will hear your bawling – the rest won’t. Same thing on Twitter – people who were active at that time when Mr. Tharoor was tweeting would have seen that tweet. He has 8 lakhs+ followers for heaven’s sake!

I noticed it and wanted to help Norton out – in case they have not tracked it themselves. Why? Because I like the product – I’ve been a user for the past 7 years and have had no issues with it. And have seen the product improve in terms of features and UI, steadily.

So, I tweeted,

“Norton you’ve a problem…sounds like ‘Houston we have a…’ no? @NortonOnline better see this! http://bit.ly/al3R68 Seen by 8 lakh people!”

My worry was that Norton had mentioned in it Twitter bio…this: “Welcome to the official Norton from Symantec Twitter channel. Share your thoughts. Weâ??re listening: M-F: 8-5pm PST.” – so, will the time zone impact this?

Turned out…it did not! Norton sent a tweet to me and another person (who pointed this out to them)…this,

@beastoftraal @rohit_agarwl Thanks for forwarding to us! We’re looking into @ShashiTharoor case right now & will contact him asap.”

They also tweeted this to Mr. Tharoor.

@ShashiTharoor Thanks for reaching out to us on twitter. We’re looking into your situation right now and will contact you asap.”

And, they seemed to have pulled it. Tharoor tweeted this shortly thereafter,

the power of Twitter: my tweeted frustration with Norton elicited an immediate call from a wonderfully helpful support person who solved it”

I love this! It’s one thing to get irritated about how our collective behavior has leaned towards public whining (due to bitter experiences with customer support…or the lack of it…I understand!)…and it’s a completely different thing to witness issues being resolved in real-time. More so when that issue is being beamed out to 8 lakhs+ people.

On the ‘moving the needle’ part – the next time you’re out in the market to buy a anti-virus, PC-security product, I’m sure you’ll add Norton in your consideration list…if it wasn’t in it, already. This experience may not make you rush out and buy Norton’s products, but it gives you a recall value…a very positive one at that!

Just one last question: If Mr. Tharoor was still  a minister…if someone in his constituency had a problem with something…can he resort to shouting it out at the middle of his city to get resolution? Or, do such tactics work only for profit-oriented multinational corporations?

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