RAZOR BRANDING BLOG: You Have To Listen To The Conversation

You Have To Listen To The Conversation

One of the best points about social media is the ability to hear what is going on.  You can listen for your name, for your company and products, as well as your competitors.

There are great stories of companies like Comcast that have used tools like Twitter to listen to their customers and provide solutions to their problems.  Thereby raising their customer satisfaction surveys to much higher levels.

But Delta Airlines is obviously not listening.  I was on a flight from New Orleans to New York on Monday that should have lasted 3 hours.  

We were stuck on the plane for 9 hours.  The weather in New York prevented us from taking off for a little while so we sat on the tarmac at MSY for about 45 minutes.  The flight was very turbulent and a few passengers got sick.  We were held at the outer marker until we got low on fuel and then we were diverted to Dulles.  

Landed in DC to refuel and the pilot told us that we would have to wait about 30 minutes and then we could take off for La Guardia.

One problem.  We aren't idiots.  It's a Monday morning so what do you think we are doing?  Working on our laptops and iphones.  One quick search online and it is pretty easy to find out that Newark is shut down and La Guardia has delays of up to 4 hours. So why give misinformation to a plane full of business people with access to the internet.

A number of people on the plane are using Twitter and sharing the experience online.  The tweets are being retweeted so at this point thousands of people are going through this with us.

But no response from Delta.

The pilot announces that there is a one time opportunity to get off the plane if you are interested but Delta will not release the bags from the cargo area and they are not responsible for you once you get off the plane.  You are on your own.  A few passengers who have urgent business or connecting flights in NYC take the offer and head for the nearest Amtrak station.  My meetings didn't start until Tuesday so I was okay.

We boarded at 6:30am for a 3 hour flight and it is now past noon.  Passengers are getting hungry.  We ask about ordering pizza or being allowed to go into the terminal to get food.  Can't leave the plane - even to go to the terminal.

The flight attendant offers snack service.  I pick one of the cute little mini cans of pringles and some grapes.  Imagine my surprise when she informs me that it will be $9.  I ask if she is serious and her reply is that bad weather is not her fault.  

I am stunned.  We are stuck on the plane, not given many options, and yet they want to charge for a snack.  More people start twittering.  Passengers are pissed off.

But no response from Delta.

We are finally cleared to take off for a very turbulent flight into New York.  A few more people get sick.  All in all we were on the plane for close to nine hours and there were hundreds of tweets sent.

But no response from Delta.

In this day and age every company has to be listening online for their name.  It's your golden opportunity to address a problem as soon as it happens.  

Crises Communications 101:  Respond quickly and with the truth.

Hard to believe that Delta doesn't have a program in place to tackle situations like this.  People don't need lifetime free flight to make them feel better.  They just want to be heard.

Are you listening?

Jaci Russo 
Sr. Partner
The Russo Group

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