Friday, December 31, 2010

A true story of customer service in the age of social media

We were at the In-Laws' place in Florida this past week. For the trek home, we were scheduled to fly back Tuesday on a flight connecting through Detroit. You may remember that day because several feet of warmal colding blanketed the East.

We had booked our tickets through Orbitz, which has a handy notification service. What wasn’t so handy was that on Monday, we received a robo-call from Orbitz simply stating, "Delta has canceled your flight to Detroit." The massive blizzard had resulted in thousands of canceled flights, mostly in the East, but some in the upper Midwest as well. Unfortunately, Orbitz does not try to reschedule for you nor provide any easy options for doing so.

When I tried to reschedule the flight, I found that Delta’s customer service operations had completely melted down.

On Monday, calling any of the reservations numbers (general or frequent flier) offered the caller the following helpful message: "Thank you for calling Delta Airlines. Due to extreme weather conditions, we are unable to answer your call at this time." It then hung up on the caller.

In other words, no queue, no help.

The website was even less helpful. Here are three examples of what website visitors saw on Monday:

I was pretty shocked that a snowstorm, albeit a blizzard, had seemingly taken out Delta’s entire customer service operation.

Because I am a complete loser, however, my first reaction was not to freak out. It was, "I wonder what folks on Twitter are saying about Delta?" To my surprise, Delta customer service reps were actually answering questions:

I was able to message @Delta and @DeltaAir, who confirmed that our flight had been rescheduled through Atlanta and subsequently booked all of our seats together for both legs of the trip.

This may be a useful example for businesses of all kinds: whether you like it or not, customers use social media to talk about you — and many times it won’t be positive. Like my experience with Delta on Twitter, good customer service on active social networks can help take a negative customer experience and transform it into something far more positive.

1 comment:

AmPowerBlog said...

Awesome post, Doug. Glad you got home safely.