If you don't believe social media is changing the word we live in... think again. One of my fave articles from 2011 is a Forbes cover story about Social Power and the Coming Corporate Revolution. I couldn't agree more that customers and employees are gaining power and a voice through social media that Corporate America simply can't ignore if it wants to remain relevant and competitive. In fact, my recent experience with American Airlines is a perfect example of how even Corporate Giants can use twitter to not only listen but turn a "heat case" into an opportunity.
My love/hate relationship with airline customer service began when I flew back to Lubbock, Texas for my 10 year high school reunion. My husband and I missed a day and a half of the festivities b/c of mechanical delays. On top of that, I ended up wearing my mother's clothes & buying makeup b/c the (unnamed) airline lost our luggage. (D'oh!) For the first time in my life, I wrote a scathing letter. The response? (Feel free to insert the noise of crickets chirping here...) No apology letter or phone call. Nothing. Nada. Apparently, no one cared whether I was happy. And honestly, what was the real incentive to even pretend to listen to me? I'd fly again anyway, right? Yep.
As a TV consumer reporter at the time (1994), I was well aware that I wasn't alone. Airline customer service-- especially concerning complaints-- was almost non-existant. If you weren't making a reservation, they weren't interested. Nothing much had changed even as late as 2009 when Time Magazine wrote about Bad Airline Customer Complaint Lines: No Answer. It seemed like we were simply destined to take what the airlines were dishing out -- good, bad or indifferent.
Well, maybe not anymore...
For my first blog of 2012, I'm pleased to report things are changing DRASTICALLY with the introduction of social media... even when it comes to the Airline Industry! Now, I'm not sure if all airlines have gotten on board but American Airlines has truly stepped up to the plate to not only use twitter as a listening tool... but actively use it to make customers happy! (Insert angels signing here.) How do I know times are changing? Here's the Reader's Digest verson: I was having troubles booking a trip w/ my frequent flier miles. I tried to book online but had "issues"... and customer service told me it would cost $85 to book through them even though I'd just paid to reactivate some expired miles. ARG! So, I did what I usually do and tweeted... hoping someone might listen. Check out the thread:
I'd been messing with these dang tickets for a week and American Airlines' social media department had me taken care of in mere MINUTES!! Even if they hadn't gotten me out of my self-induced mess... they LISTENED and ANSWERED. THIS is what I preach to my clients!! No matter how big or small your company... customer service isn't an option. You MUST listen and interact with the folks who chose to spend their hard earned money with YOU. And since Social media is all about engagement... it's the PERFECT place help your customers and build a loyal following.
There's little doubt that twitter, facebook, Google+, etc IS a game changer. Still not convinced of that? Then try this on for size: Social media is not only the perfect place for your customers to get help but it also provides a place for your biggest fans to brag. For instance, the following tweet not only went out to my almost 15,000 twitter followers, but it had 60-THOUSAND impressions! Now THAT is a big "thank you" for a job well done!
Can your company afford NOT to be on social media?
In my next few blogs, I'll give you some tips on HOW to tweet in order to get companies to listen to you and how YOU can monitor your own brand on social media so, like American Airlines, you can turn every post into an opportunity.