Southern Railways have been much maligned over the last few years for their poor customer handling and unreliable service. The scale of their alleged inadequacy has helped to bring rail renationalisation back into the public consciousness, as the company continues to lose support from both City Hall and the general commuter.
But yesterday all of that was forgotten as Eddie became the official voice of an organisation that employs over 4,000 people and has the worst satisfaction score of any UK rail operator.
Suddenly, Twitter users weren’t talking to a paid-up PR person defending the rail misery they had just endured, they were talking to Eddie, a person, just trying to do his best. Remarkably for an online stunt such as this, few messages of abuse have been received, as the majority of users have celebrated Eddie’s charmingly affable manner and sincere wish to do a good job.
Some have rolled their eyes at this gimmick, and of course a stunt like this isn’t going to make tomorrow’s Brighton to London train any more likely to arrive at 9:30am; but in a small way it’s helped to remind some on social media that every company is staffed by Eddies, and that whatever the structural or managerial failings of the organisation you’re tweeting at, it’s important to keep in mind that it’s essentially operated by ordinary people, just trying to do what they can.
Eddie has helped to bring some semblance of humanity and compassion to corporate communications on Twitter – an incredible achievement and not bad for his first day of work experience…