British Airways, learn from KLM and have a 24/7 social media hub

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Desperate times call for desperate measures and apparently, that’s how Hasan Syed felt after British Airways lost he and his father’s luggage.

He bought a series of sponsored tweets in September 2013 (not really THAT long ago) so everyone could see his frustration with the airline:

Sponsored, for lots to see on Twitter.

Sponsored, for lots to see on Twitter.

In lecture this week, Justin asked us, ethically, what is the right thing for British Airways to do in response to this situation? I would venture to say that their customer service department shouldn’t have let the situation percolate to the point that Syed felt compelled to blast out a complaint Tweet.

But it happened, there’s no taking it back, or BA’s super-delayed response, which the company said was because the BA Twitter account is only manned from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. GMT. (BA, maybe you should invest in a social media hub like KLM!) Their next step was the right move (reaching out to Syed to solve the issue privately, off of social media). However, BA showed its continued social media ineptitude in the process. Check out this exchange between Syed and BA:

british airways syed

Ouch! Does BA know how to check if someone is following them?

Justin also asked us how British Airways should pacify Syed: complain to Twitter (no), grovel (no) or offer him compensation? You would think this last one would be the way to go, but Syed Tweeted just a day after his promoted tweets that he was “not interested in compensation.” I think that’s about right; I think that a man who spends $1,000 on promoting Tweets doesn’t really want money; he just wants his luggage back. And if he can’t get that, at least some competence on the part of the company in trying to locate the luggage.

If British Airways complained about the situation on Twitter, it would just make them look bad to Syed and all their other customers. And groveling to Syed would just make the airline look even more pathetic to Syed and all their other customers.

Turning the question on its head, was Syed ethical in his decision to put BA on blast like that? Granted, BA was probably not too pleased with the way it made them look, but Syed did what he felt he had to do. It all comes down to that age-old saying “the customer is always right.”

However, it would be interesting to know the ins and outs of Syed’s customer service situation with BA. Syed says he didn’t invent #complaintvertising, yet he puts other companies, like Square, on blast on Twitter. So why didn’t he take out ads against them. Like I said, it would be interesting to see/hear the private exchanges between Syed and BA to see if his actions were legit, or if he’s just a chronic complainer. What do you think?

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KLM: Taking it to the social media house

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I don’t think I’ve seen a company put its money where its mouth is and actually deliver on social until this week’s lecture about KLM (a.k.a. Royal Dutch Airlines) and its Twitter account.

On the KLM Twitter cover photo, the company offers a pretty big and bold promise:

klm twitter promise

Wow, that’s a pretty quick response! Wish all vendors were that quick (or responded at all) on social media.

My first thought was, “how can they do that?” but I’m pretty sure I know the answer: They put resources into it. Resources in this case equal people because I don’t think we’ve created robots or software that are THAT good at social listening — yet. One of our reading assignments this week is to read about KLM’s social media strategy, so I’ll be excited to dive into that and learn more of the intricacies of how they actually are able to be on social for their customers 24/7/365.

This week’s lesson, “Relationships and the Human Voice,” puts a lot of emphasis on treating our customers like human beings, in essence, treating social relationships like real-life relationships. Isn’t part of being in a relationship being there for the other person pretty much any time they need you? In lecture, Justin used the example of starting a conversation with someone and then just walking away — you wouldn’t do that in real life, would you? I’ll take that one step further: If a customer was standing at your counter with a question, concern, complaint, or wanting to buy something, would you ignore them or take care of them? You would take care of them because your livelihood depends on it. So why are so many businesses leaving potential customers unattended at the social media counter?

I realize not every company can afford to allocate resources into having a social media army ready to respond to anyone within 18 minutes. But guess what? They should still respond as soon as possible. Don’t leave a customer hanging out to dry if they really need help or have a question, or even worse, if they are pissed off. Social media responding and listening needs to be a lot more important to a lot more companies than it currently is.