How not to use Twitter for customer service

Social media a powerful tool today. Everyone with a few followers now has a megaphone to shout out in the store. And sometimes that shouting goes “viral,” the greatest hope and greatest fear of every brand.


The greatest hope because a viral video, even if it gets spoofed, still creates enormous amounts of positive brand awareness. The Jean Claude Van Damme video for Volvo, pretty well done. The pastor who didn’t want to tip, not so much.

My personal experience with Social media is the fastest way to get a response is to @tweet someone. That can be a direct message, or it could be, as was my case, the “I’m frustrated and I’m going to let my friends know about it” tweet.  A few days ago, I wrote about doing this with American Airlines. Their response was immediate. That was awesome. Their response was also anemic. That wasn’t so good.

In hindsight, I don’t know American’s policy with social media, but the obviously have someone monitoring very closely. That person seemingly had no power or ability to help in the situation. After offering to help, their last response was “we’re sorry you had a bad experience.”

Customer service is not customer placation. It is not brand protection. It is “service.” Meaning that you offer something.

What would I have wished for?

  1. An apology up front.
  2. Some sort of service. Listen, I knew when I tweeted, that I might not get on the next plane, or any plane that day. I’ve been flying since I was 7 years old. I get the gig. But I also know that airline miles are practically meaningless because most people don’t use them. I know access to the lounge is also not that big of a deal.  An empowered customer service rep could have responded:

“Our apologies. I can’t get you on the flight, but I can offer you access to our premium lounge and 1000 frequent flyer miles. .”  (140 characters BTW, I tried it 🙂 Or something. Anything.

Customer service must have the power to serve. Otherwise, they shouldn’t engage a customer.

What do you think? What good examples do you have of companies giving excellent customer service?
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