Accepted Paper:

Organising demonstrations of public transport disruption: transport for London's use of social media management software  


Jessamy Perriam (IT University of Copenhagen)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines how public sector organisations use social media management software as an interface for handling customer enquiries or complaints. It does this through a case study of Transport for London's use of social media management software to provide commuters with service updates.

Paper long abstract:

In the past decade, businesses and public institutions have increasingly made use of social media platforms to provide customer service to their consumers experiencing trouble. However, these organisations rarely use the social media platforms at the source - that is, they do not use the Twitter app or website to communicate to people. Rather, they use third-party social media management software that aggregates many social media accounts and content in one digital space. This, in effect, transforms social media platforms into an inbox for customer service staff to work their way through. But how have third-party social media management software become perceived as an essential part of the digital setting for demonstrating disruption? And how does social media data produced in customer service situations and through social media management software perform in the organisation well after the initial customer enquiry is completed?

In this paper, I explore these questions through an ethnographic study involving Transport for London's customer service team's process for demonstrating commuter disruption and responding to commuter enquiries. I describe their use of social media management software and how an initial customer tweet takes on a life within the organisation - for planning, performance review and, editorial decision making - for some time after the initial enquiry or demonstration of disruption. I also describe how consumer tweets provide justification to iterate the organisation's social media customer service provision, using a pseudo-Agile approach to question whether these practices are truly innovative or merely responsive to shifting specificities.

Panel B08
From A to B: orders and disorders of routing and navigation