Don Marti

Thu 11 Dec 2008 10:30:42 AM PST

business model for Twitter discovered

Jesus H. Christ on a VIP list. Tara Hunt just found the business model for Twitter.

You see, in the future, if you have lots of "Whuffie," you get good customer service, and if you don't, you don't. And Twitter knows who's who.

Back in the day, they used to tell Customer Service managers to be nice to everyone, because if one customer gets treated unfairly, he tells all his friends. It's nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice, and all that.

Now, they tell you just to go ahead and outsource Customer Service to someone who will blow the customer off as quickly as possible, because really, nobody listens to most people. If they complain about your company, who gives a rat's ass?

The problem with the first plan is that you're paying people to fix customer problems, even for the customers who nobody listens to. The problem with the second plan is the customers that people actually do listen to. They complain and you get a lousy reputation.

If only you could implement both plans, one for the customers that people listen to, and one for the rest. But how?

So here's the business model for Twitter: Ready? Keep the whole service 100% free except for access to the count of how many followers each user has. Then when you're the big cable company and you see someone bitching about the awful rat's nest of cables that the cable installers litter his house with, you can pay your Twitter Count Fee to see if the person has any Whuffie. If the person has Whuffie, you forward the complaint to the Blackberry of someone who can actually do something about it, and the customer gets a cable re-do and an apology in the morning. If the person has no Whuffie, you ignore him as usual.

The Twitter users are happy because they get a free of charge service to use. The companies are happy because they can get the best of both worlds on customer service decisions. Twitter is happy because it gets a fee every time someone complains about one of its subscriber companies. Everyone's happy except the poor bastards with no Whuffie, and if anyone cared about them, they'd have Whuffie already, so they might as well not exist.

(By the way, please follow dmarti on Twitter. My @sears washing machine has been making noise lately, and I might have to call the service department.)