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This week, an angry British Airways passenger took it upon himself to fight back against the poor customer service he received by purchasing a promoted tweet.  

Brand managers are no doubt starting to ask themselves, what is our policy to deal with that?

Disgruntled and somewhat entrepreneurial-thinking BA customer, Hassan Syed purchased the premium tweet to complain publically after he received poor customer service when his father's luggage went missing on a BA flight from Chicago to Paris, writing:

"Don't fly @BritishAirways. Their customer service is horrendous”.

ba sponsored tweet

Extreme reaction

While it isn't public knowledge how much the promoted tweet might have cost Syed, suggestions are that it could have been in the region of $1,000.

Even more shocking however might be that it took BA eight hours to respond, stating that its helpline is open 9-5pm, in which time it was seen by over 76,000 users

BA tweet response 

Strategic implications

It's not new news that increasingly, customers are turning to social media as a method of gaining customer service, or making a complaint to a brand.

In fact, one-third of British customers complain on social media.

What this does highlight though, is the importance of an ever-evolving CRM strategy in social media

Users are only going to demand more real-time and more accurate responses. 

Competitors and unhappy customers can sabotage at any time, and community managers working regular office hours, just won't cut it.

So not only will brands have to ensure adequate resource is allocated to manage the channels around the clock, but also that they are effectively trained and trusted to deal with incidents appropriately when a senior colleague isn't necessarily around to advise (because it's 2am on a Sunday morning, for example).

Or does it mean that working evenings and weekends (that most of us in digital have done for years anyway) is just accepted as part of the job description?

The implications on team dynamics, HR, brand management, and remuneration to mention a few are enormous.

It will be interesting to see if this incident leads to a response from BA to update its approach, and also if others fall victim to this method of brand detraction.

Rhian Harris (was Simms)

Published 5 September, 2013 by Rhian Harris (was Simms)

Rhian Simms is a Digital Marketing Consultant at Consult&C Digital and a contributor to Econsultancy. Follow her on Twitter and Google+.

12 more posts from this author

Comments (9)

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Nick Stamoulis

Social never sleeps! And for a company like British Airways, which is operating in every time zone all over the world, there needs to be someone manning the customer service social desk at all times. The way we interact with our audience is changing and customers expect much faster communication.

over 2 years ago

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EricaASchroeder

Audrey. I see what you mean... Tracy`s posting is nice... last thursday I got a new Chevrolet Corvette from having made $4795 this past month and would you believe, $10,000 last munth. this is certainly the easiest work I've ever had.
I actually started 5 months ago and almost immediately startad earning at least $84 per-hour.
moved here http://jobfly.biz/?1=bo0356

over 2 years ago

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Jared

Businesses need to be smart with their communications on social media sites as it can turn a flame into a fire.

over 2 years ago

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Visakan Veerasamy, Marketing at ReferralCandy

It's interesting to observe what this $1,000 investment is doing for Hassan. It bought him a great story, which makes him a hero. He got interviewed by CNN. It's all good publicity for him, surely! It might be useful to him, seeing as he runs a few businesses.

I doubt he planned all this to get publicity for himself, but it's interesting to observe all the same.

over 2 years ago

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GeraldineJSmith

my classmate's step-sister makes <$82/h> hourly on the internet. She has been out of a job for 6 months but last month her pay was <$20983> just working on the internet for a few hours. Read more on this site... www.pkm.ddp.net

over 2 years ago

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The Magic of Happiness

it is becoming more challenging with consumers becoming more connected and require more transparancey. Organizations have to reason not to be transparant, available in realtime and have the excellence in service at the core of their business not just customer service department. It is beyond customer satisfaction now people are seeking DELIGHT...

over 2 years ago

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David Quaid

Wow! That's an unbelievable reaction by British Airways. Surprised this hasn't happened to Ryanair yet!

over 2 years ago

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Charles

It is unbelievable that British Airways only have employees managing their Twitter profile between 9am and 5pm. For smaller companies it can be a challenge but it shouldn't be for British Airways.

David - Ryanair no doubt would see this kind of publicity as good publicity!

over 2 years ago

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Surabhi

Social Media is here to stay and we will see more and more of such incidents. It is time, companies realized the value of social customer service. I was reading this blog today and it actually talks about how few companies are also using social media to impress and target their customers. Give it a read. Its pretty interesting. http://minacs.adityabirla.com/Blogs/tabid/390/EntryId/176/One-or-All-Social-Customer-Social-Business.aspx#Comments

over 2 years ago

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