Reputations and Complainers


“You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do” – Henry Ford

In this week’s lecture, we were presented with an British Airways social media emergency: a (very) angry man sent out a promoted tweet describing British Airway’s customer service as “horrendous.” Dramatic? Yes. To take to Twitter to vent about poor customer service is one thing, but to promote the tweet causing it to go viral is another. What happened that was so horrendous? Honestly, I am dying to know. However, on the flip side: kudos to this guy for making the most out of Twitter’s ad platform, and social media in general. This is a great example for other social media users (and a great lesson for British Airways) on how to use social platforms to reach a very large audience, essentially becoming an influencer through one ad. British Airways response came much later, citing social media office hours, and promising to look into the matter. I don’t think this was the best way of handling the situation. A large company should have some sort of social media management at all hours, if not just hours that people are flying.   The response also lacked a sincere apology. Perhaps they could have responded along the lines of:

“We’re sorry for the delay in response -we have been looking into the matter. Your satisfaction is important. We’re displeased to hear that you had a poor experience. Please DM us to remedy the situation.”

I think a genuine, sincere response is key in trying to remedy the situation. At this point, what will make this man happy? Frequent flyer miles? A free flight? Nothing? British Airways has a lot of making up to do in order to make this man a public supporter of the brand again, but I am not sure giving him anything (especially publicly) is the best way to reward a public outburst like that. Perhaps the best thing to do would be to announce a modification of their customer service or social media policy.

Another way they could reach out to him is through the follow up. I love the idea of reminding dissatisfied customers that you are still thinking of their problem and wanting to make sure they are still happy.

Have you ever complained to a company and been rewarded? (Confession: I emailed Delta once after a cross-country flight on a plane with only one working bathroom and was rewarded with a large amount of Skymiles.)

Do you feel that public complaints that involve lashing out really deserve a reward?


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