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What is your Twitter feed hiding?

My father-in-law used to play tricks on my wife, and at Christmas he would wrap her presents up in oddly shaped boxes, or with extra packaging, so she’d think that she was getting something else.

Oh, what fun they had.

Oh, what disappointment there was when she found the great big box had something tiny and insignificant within.

How… they… laughed…

We’ve all felt that as a child; the advertised super rocket with real blasters turned out to be half the size and far less blasty than they lead us to believe.

In this new age of communication you expect these issues to be consigned, like the super rocket, to the dustbin of memory.

I encountered it last week; the building up of expectation, crushed by reality and all because of a company trying to do the right thing.

Last week I used the services of DFDS Seaways to go on a family holiday to France. For anyone who doesn’t know, a French ferry workers strike and disturbances around the channel tunnel have made that journey troublesome. On the way out, the ferry expected at 05.15 left at 09.00 and went to Dunkirk as Calais was closed. Nothing DFDS could have done about that and they seemed to be handling it as well as they could.

The return journey was a different matter.

In our lovely house near Bergerac, I checked the DFDS twitter feed, they were advising travellers to get to Dunkirk (we’d been switched on to that service a month before, with no explanation) at least 90 minutes before check in as there were long queues. They also told us there were 2 and a half hour delays, maximum to their services.

The feed was well put together, informative and constantly updated. I was really impressed.

We drove through France and arrived at the allotted time, a good 90 minutes before our booked sailing time. The efficiency of the twitter feed, and the man hours that went into it was really appreciated; the company obviously cared about the passenger experience.

No… no they really didn’t…

They had urged passengers to get to Dunkirk nice and early so they could check in and spend hours on the set of “The Walking Dead”.

Dunkirk must have been a setting for a post-apocalyptic drama… that’s the only explanation. No café, but banks of vending machines that managed to serve tea with a head on it, a small amusement arcade with banks of machines that proudly displayed branded “Out Of Order” signs, toilets that managed to be both broken and foul. I’ve never seen queues for both genders lavatories. The whole building felt like it had been left to go mouldy… it felt like there had been a terrible chemical spill from one of the near-by facilities and it had been used as a refugee triage centre… and not cleaned since… you wiped your feet on the way out.

The wonderfully informative DFDS twitter feed was the bright and shiny wrapping paper covering a box of used urinal cakes.

So what did I learn from this, apart from the ability to ‘hold it in’ until I got on a ferry?

A great virtual customer experience needs to be backed up with a REAL LIFE ONE!

It’s no good being efficient online if, when you arrive, the place of business looks like it’s just spent a weekend with Charlie Sheen.

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