Tag Archives: American Airlines

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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Why Customer services agents shouldn’t ask how they can help.

A bad day had just gotten worse. My flight out of Springfield Mo had been delayed because of what I felt was staff incompetence. New FFA rules were blamed on the plane being delayed because ground crew needed more rest time.

De-icing a plane

Instead of redeeming the time, the plane was only de-iced after we pulled back from the gate, 30 minutes late. Meaning that I missed my connection in Chicago. I was on standby for the next flight but not real happy.

@Tweeting  someone these days is the fastest way to get customer service. No one wants their reputation ruined. Within seconds of mentioning American Airlines in a tweet, their customer service team wrote back.
AA reply-2.jpg

This was their reply seconds later.
AA reply.jpg

That was impressive. So was the offer to help. Unfortunately, the offer was empty. They couldn’t help. They couldn’t get me on that plane. It was already full. (Disclaimer: I got on the flight just fine, but 3 hours before did not know how it would work out).

Customer service is coached to ask “How can I help you?” Then when the customer asks for something the representative can’t do, you are at an impasse.I had a boss one time who frequently asked “Let me know if I can help you in any way.” The couple times I reached out and he couldn’t help, well, I just stopped asking. The offer was sincere, but wasn’t phrased properly.

I suggest that HR change their trainnig. Don’t ask “How can I help you today?” but rather “ Tell me the reason for contacting us today.” Then, if you can’t help, a simple “I’m sorry, please excuse us” will suffice. But if you offer to help, and you can’t, then you’ve begun the conversation with a customer by lying to them.

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