Creating Customer Service with Social Media

American Airlines. The Best I’ve Ever Had.

People often aske me, as someone in the customer business, what’s the best customer service experience I’ve ever had, and why?

Until today I have always been a bit wishy washy about the answer, but now I can finally declare a clear winner, American Airlines.

Now, to give some perspective. My ultimate goal was to redeem a ‘perk’ from Klout the site that rewards you based on your level of social influence. Influence is scored on a scale of 1-100 and is measured by interaction on social networks. The perk was to allow users with scores over 55 a free day pass to the Admirals Club. Sweet, right? Good enough that as an avid travler, I connected all my social networks to raise my score above the minimum threshhold.

Upon realizing yesterday that I was going to make a last-minute trip I was elated. This was only matched by my level of disappointment when, upon trying to redeem my perk I got the message below. Even though it was my first time entering. Womp.

Uh Oh, You have reached the maximum number of entries

Now, being in the online reputation business and acutely aware of a brand’s sensitivity to its online image, I did what any Community Manager would do- tweet about it. To both Klout and American Airlines.

Here’s where it gets good, and worth reading this blog entry (thanks for sticking with me thus far). Within minutes I had tweet reply American Airlines who followed me and asked me to follow them and message them directly about the issue (in order to message someone on twitter, they have to follow you). I also had a message from KloutPerks assuring me my issue was being considered. Meanwhile, all of this is helping improve my klout score, so awesome there. After a small back and forth with whomever was behind the American Airlines twitter, I was ensured they’d do their best to fix it.

Also happening simlutaneously, another Tweep (Twitter person), sees this conversation and chimes in to let American know he is having the same problem. So now American is aware it’s not just me and there might be a problem with the site.

Fast forward to today and I still haven’t received my pass. Bummer, because now I’m sitting at Chicago O’Hare with a 3 hour layover and could really use it. So I casually message this to American and the mysterious Twitter Man (or Woman) again responds promptly. Surprised I still haven’t gotten my pass, they message me my personal link. Yay! I am now able to enjoy 2 hours in the adminrals club with free coffee, apples, WiFi (shame on you O’Hare, even Detroit has free public WiFi these days), and more! It also provides a chance run-in with my uncle, but that’s another awesome story.

Now here’s the moral of the story. What American Airlines did right:

  1. They Noticed.

    American had a flow set up to manage these types of complaints, and used it. This is often the job of a community manager or customer support team member.

  2. They Were Responsive.

    The rule of thumb is that you want to respond to anyone on twitter within at least 10 minutes. After that, effectiveness goes down.

  3. They Responded Publically.

    This way, others’ can see they are responsive (which makes them look good) and if others have a concern, like otther gentleman on Twitter, they can see the avenue to report it.

  4. They Were Personal.

    They met me where I was at (on Twitter) instead of asking me to correspond somewhere else. They used my name in interactions and they used colloquial language. They didn’t make me feel like the interactions were coming from a robot, a formula or an overworked customer service person. Rather, it felt like it came from a proud American Airlines worker who wanted to help.

    Note: the person did not introduce him or herself to me by name, which some brands do. This would have helped me to know if I was speaking to the same person today as yesterday. It’s a branding choice.

  5. They stuck with me.

    The story did not end as soon as the problem was resolved. American continued to message and tweet at me even after the ideal. They even messaged me the next day to make sure I had a good experience. This made me feel they generally cared about me as a person. They even referenced the coffee in the picture (below) I sent them in appreciation.

Me with Admirals Club Coffee

If you have heard the sentimant a happy customer might tell two people, but an unhappy one will tell ten, you should hear a very happy one might tell thousands, or however many read this blog 😉 The advantage of using social media as a customer service tool is you are able to meet customers where they’re at, and you can do it publically.

It’s also important to make sure customers feel heard (CoughCoughUnitedAirlinesCoughCough) as this frustration is where most bad memories can be avoided/are actually created. You never know what that happy customer (or unhappy one) can do for you later. Now, not only am an AA Advantage miles member (okay, I have been for 23 years), but a loyal custoemr for life, or as long as AA keeps offering great customer service.

Now, if only we could do something about that boring safety demonstration…


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