I recently found myself in a situation where an international flight delay meant that I would miss my connection. While normally not a big deal, my “bright idea” of maximizing my holiday in London meant that my connection was the last of the evening between New York and Boston on Delta. Suffice to say, this was not how I wanted my amazing trip to end.
Notified via an e-mail alert from Delta mid-morning, I immediately scrambled to call the 1-800 customer service number, to which I learned that a 15 minute or longer wait was in store. About five minutes in on hold, I had a bright idea. Why don’t I tweet Delta’s customer service team, @DeltaAssist?
So, I tweeted:
One minute later, I had a tweet back from @DeltaAssist. Keep in mind that I’ve been on hold for over six minutes now.
Alright, now we’re making progress. It’s worth noting that I had done my homework during those five minutes on hold. I had followed e-mail prompts to automatically re-book on Delta, there just weren’t any options available. Knowing that Delta now co-shares with Virgin Atlantic, I went on TripAdvisor and found an open Virgin Atlantic flight flying directly into Boston from London with seats leaving at 3:05 p.m. that afternoon. Perhaps we could work out a deal.
Eleven minutes later, I had an email and Twitter confirmation from @DeltaAssist and the fabulous *EP that I had been re-booked on the flight of my choice.
Words cannot even express how wowed I was. I’m still amazed when I go back and read our simple 140-character (or less) Twitter exchange. I couldn’t believe my luck that this had really just happened. I immediately proceeded to gush out gracious tweets of thanks to anyone who would listen.
It’s worth noting that throughout this exchange, I was still on hold with customer service and had not gotten a person live on the phone yet. I never did get to speak to someone directly. But, it didn’t matter. I got what I needed quickly, efficiently, and was able to move on with my day as planned. I also gained a new-found respect for flying to London and back on Delta.
As a result of this experience, my last two hours in London were spent stress-free. I did not have to worry about a grueling day/night ahead of me, or how I was going to try and conquer all odds to make my connection, or whether I’d make it to work on time on Monday. Instead, I went shopping and enjoyed the sunshine in London.
So, what can we as marketers learn from this experience? Quick response times and best serving your customers works. It’s the simplest, oldest trick in the marketing playbook, and for good reason. Treat your customers well, provide a good level of service, respond swiftly when something doesn’t go right, and they’ll respect you for it. You might even wow them and inspire a new level of loyalty.
While I imagine one minute response times may not be business as usual for @DeltaAssist, the feeling of being heard quickly when you have a legitimate issue is incredible from a customer perspective.
You can push out the best content in the world and respond in a funny, witty manner, but if you’re not there on social media when your customers need you the most, you may lose those customers. On the flip side, by handling a customer service issue well via social media, you have the opportunity to build brand evangelists and generate positive word-of-mouth feedback, like this blog post.
Think about how strong your customer service resources are – both traditional and social media – the next time you’re contemplating investing in a splashy marketing campaign.
As Jay Baer wisely states, “If you sell something, you make a customer today; if you help someone, you make a customer for life.”
Thank you *EP & the team @DeltaAssist. I hope that your social media customer service efforts will inspire others.