Yesterday I wrote about the situation British Airways found themselves in earlier this week when an unhappy customer purchased a promoted tweet to complain about the lack of customer service provided by the airline. Today I’d like to talk about British Airways’s response to that promoted tweet.
When Hasan Syed paid to promote the following tweet:
“Don’t fly @BritishAirways. Their customer service is horrendous.”
It took British Airways 10 hours to respond with a tweet of their own. By that time, the tweet had already garnered thousands of views, retweets and comments. British Airways’s response was as follows:
“Sorry for the delay in responding, our twitter feed is open 09:00-17:00 GMT. Please DM your baggage ref and we’ll look into this.”
When I saw this my eyes almost bulged out of their sockets! Didn’t I just write a blog post about not letting your social media channels go unmonitored no matter what your office hours are? I suppose British Airways missed that post of mine. What a shame for them!
What’s wrong with this response?
First of all, there is NO EXCUSE for not responding to any type of social media issue (or crisis) in real-time – and attempting to give an excuse for your lack of response and awareness only hurts your image even more.
Secondly, the airline’s Twitter team must have missed the crisis and issues training that taught them how to respond to issues compassionately and in a human voice. Responding to a situation (that should have been handled appropriately in the first place) by asking to be DM’ed so that the situation can be looked into, is not going to connect you closer to the frustrated customer who was so upset that he felt he had to pay to be heard.
Although this promoted tweet wasn’t a crisis for the airline, it was something that they
could have should have used to their advantage. Think of it. They could have purchased a promoted tweet of their own and written something clever and compassionate towards their customer’s frustrating situation. They then could have fixed the issue immediately (which, of course, should have been done in the first place – but that’s about crisis and issue prevention not response) and declared a public mission to work harder at better customer service and customer care in the future.
Don’t fear social media issues. Embrace them!
Social media issues are an opportunity for your organization to strengthen the relationships it shares with its stakeholders. It’s an opportunity to turn a negative into a positive and, since it’s not a crisis, it’s an opportunity to get creative and soak in the spotlight that is already shining on you, while leveraging positive PR opportunities that would not have otherwise been presented.
Author of Crisis Ready: Building an Invincible Brand in an Uncertain World, Melissa Agnes is a leading authority on crisis preparedness, reputation management, and brand protection. Agnes is a coveted keynote speaker, commentator, and advisor to some of today’s leading organizations faced with the greatest risks. Learn more about Melissa and her work here.