Two cheers for Facebook
My nominee for customer service company of the year is...Facebook.
Yes, that Facebook. The one that keeps freaking out its users and then retreating in a hail of virtual brickbats.
The latest climbdown involves letting people quit the social net without leaving behind substantial traces. Used to be hard; now, easier.
Just a couple of months ago, Facebook gave in to critics of its Beacon purchase-alert system, which published records of online shopping expeditions -- and retained the records even if users opted out of the program.
So how does Facebook deserve any kind of award? Because it listens to its users -- and it capitalizes on its essential nature as a web service to react quickly, in ways old-school companies could never match. When a feature turns out to be a bug, it can be changed as quickly as it was added.
Facebook starts by offering a good product -- clean, intuitive software, supplemented by a host of third-party apps, and the gravitational pull of a huge user community. And then it pushes the envelope. Yes, the company has to keep experimenting. And obviously, some of those experiments don't pan out.
But as long as Facebook keeps listening to its community, and making changes on the fly if new stuff doesn't work as planned, it deserves some credit.