In the past few days, I’ve seen, or heard of, first efforts from a cou­ple of major Aus­tralian ISPs engag­ing with their com­mu­ni­ties on Twit­ter. Unfor­tu­nately, it looks like the lawyers got way too involved in the process for the Big Pond Team.

The responses on the account are full of non­com­mi­tal, anony­mous, boil­er­plate text. It’s just the sort of thing that’s anath­ema to both good cus­tomer ser­vice and the kind of open, hon­est, human con­ver­sa­tion that is crit­i­cal in social net­works, and even more crit­i­cal if you’re try­ing to engage your com­mu­nity as a brand and business.

Obvi­ously, the Tel­stra man­age­ment aren’t influ­enced by The Clue­train Man­i­festo.

I’m assured by some­one who knows, that the folks behind @bigpondteam are very good and care a lot. I believe that’s the case. I also hope that the shack­les they find them­selves bound by are loos­ened sooner rather than later so that they can really engage with the cus­tomer base in a true con­ver­sa­tion. In social spaces, arti­fi­cial­ity just doesn’t cut it.

There are plenty of exam­ples of great cus­tomer ser­vice on Twit­ter — @comcastcares, @johnmccrea, all the Zap­pos staff to name a few. This is how it should have been done. As it stands, the effort looks false, forced and arti­fi­cial, which is a real shame.

I wish Tel­stra had sought the advice of me or one of the other smart peo­ple in the Aus­tralian social net­work­ing com­mu­nity before doing this.