This past week I had a most unpleasant experience traveling with US Airways. Yes, I know. You’ve heard many complaints about airlines before. And typically I do not like to take customer service issues to the social airwaves. Not that there is anything wrong with it … just not me. But US Airways deserves what they get and even more important, they will help me make a social media point as mentioned in the title.
Many have asked me, “what type of company is social media good for,” and for so long I have answered, “any company … social media will work for all.” Well I’ve been wrong. Social media will not work for a company that views its customers like “moving cargo” as opposed to “serving people.” Yes, this is a comment specific for airlines, but you get the metaphor. If a company is solely concerned with the revenue and profit squeeze and really have little regard for the market they serve, how could they ever be good at socializing, engaging, and building relationships?
So here is the short version of my perils. I was flying out of Roanoke to New York and the flight I was to take was 1.5 hours late due to the incoming aircraft. US Airways canceled the outgoing flight due to crew time out. (FAA restricts how long a crew can work continuously.) Look, everyone has flight delays and that is understandable, but if US Airways is running their scheduling so tight to the deadline with little delay margin possible, do they really care about their passengers? There were no more flights out that day to NY, so they rebooked me for a 6am flight the next day. I got up at 4am and as I’m leaving for the airport, I find out the flight has been delayed to 10am due to “mechanical issues.” By the way, they also have a flight at 10:30 to New York so oh what a surprise when one of the morning flights is also canceled and the two flights are combined to one flight out at 10:45. Mechanical issues – BS! Save money with one flight and don’t worry about the passengers that have obligations they cannot attend. One other note … there are no other flights from Roanoke to New York except from US Airways so no need to bother with what the competition might do.
Look, I don’t mean to cry on your shoulder and look for sympathy. Save it for something or someone much more deserving. But I do mean to highlight the utter disregard US Airways has for the people they serve. I also mean to suggest that some brands show the same colors in a more subtle way with their use of social media.
If a given brand or company truly has a much greater regard for profit over concern for the customers they serve, they will likely be very poor at social media. This is because successful social media requires a true interest in connecting with your target market and building relationships. If engagement and building connections are not at the heart of a company, how could they ever have a winning social presence? Examine a number of brands of your choice. Look at their social presence. Social media is a platform to foster relationships. Are the brands you looked at showing signs of “serving people” or “moving cargo” in their social presence? Are they really delivering something of value, or just pushing out their agenda?
Hey – I realize there is a bit of a difference between getting screwed by US Airways on planned flights and how a company exercises their social presence. But both scenarios say something very specific about the company/brand and how they truly feel about their customer. And in both cases, there is a blatant symbolization made and brand reputation is won or lost. Are you helping you’re brand win or lose? Do the right thing.
Make It Happen!