Hey, @VirginAmerica, tweet me!

Do you use social media? The Pew Research Center recently found that 65 percent of U.S. adults use social networking sites, and a full 90 percent of young adults do. While most of us remember a time less than ten years ago when Twitter was just a twinkle in Jack Dorsey’s eye, it’s safe to say that in another ten years, the next wave of young adults won’t remember a time before Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and so on were the norm.

What does that mean for customer service and your relationship with brands?

I flew from Washington, D.C. to San Francisco last week on Virgin America, and after having a particularly smooth experience, decided to tweet my thanks to the airline. As expected (and as has happened in the past with other airlines), I quickly received a response. In this case, it was, “so great to hear! xo.”

What I didn’t expect is what happened next.

I received a notification that a brand I had never heard of before, Hail Merry Snacks, had mentioned me in a tweet. In fact, it turns out they wanted to start a conversation. They mentioned that they noticed I was flying their favorite airline, and asked if I was traveling for the Super Bowl. I quickly realized they were one of the brands of snacks offered on board Virgin America flights. I replied that I was on a business trip, would try one of their snacks and shared a photo of my empty row. They wrote back and suggested another one of their products to try (unfortunately, it wasn’t offered on my flight).

That’s engagement with a brand that would not have been possible ten years ago, or maybe even five. I learned about them for the first time and came away with a positive impression because they took the time to chat with me like any other person would — human to human. The little touch of, albeit via social media, being treated like a person on my flight — rather than cattle, or luggage — put me in a great mood for the cross-country journey.

Another great example of customer service I’ve experienced over social media came from Kimpton Hotels & Resorts. (Full disclosure: I am employed by an agency that represents Kimpton Hotels & Resorts.) My then-boyfriend and I checked into a Kimpton property in New York City, and tweeted to Kimpton that we had arrived, and liked the design in our room. They promptly responded. The next day, we had breakfast vouchers waiting for us, thanking us for engaging with the brand on social media. In fact, since then, Kimpton and other brands have launched specific programs to reward guests for interacting with them on social media.

While interacting with the social media personification of a brand can leave you feeling warm and fuzzy, or even with a tangible benefit, what about the flip side — when something goes wrong?

There are plenty of stories in our forums of brands responding more quickly via Facebook or Twitter than traditional customer service channels, and some brands are even specifically known for it. It begs the question — is this a positive thing, or is it just another indication of how broken most customer service systems and procedures are?

I think it’s both, but mostly positive — and I’ll tell you why. Social media is highly visible. It’s public. It’s not hidden behind a recorded phone call or a private paper trail. As such, companies are more inclined than ever not to let a social media interaction with a customer blow up into a public relations (PR) nightmare. In fact, a plethora of advice exists online from top media outlets and experts on how brands can implement customer service best practices via social media. And, as a PR pro myself, I can tell you that one of the first rules is usually to respond directly to the customer and try to take the interaction private. Is it a way for brands to move a potentially angry interaction to the private, rather than public, sphere? Yes. But it also means you get a direct line to the company — quickly — and you’ve got their attention.

What do you think? Have you interacted with brands via social media? Was the experience positive or negative? Do you think social media has the potential to improve customer service and the way we interact with the companies we support with our spending power?

I think social media is:

View Results

 Loading ...
Share this story
Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn Share on Facebook
About the Author
Lover of all things travel and hospitality, both from a personal and professional standpoint. A PR pro by day, I've represented a wide variety of clients in the travel industry since 2008. Sharing my passion for and knowledge of travel makes me happy. Cornell University graduate. Follow me on Twitter @HeatherLori7.
Posted in Don't Go There Tagged , , ,

Underwritten by

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Cavalry Travel Insurance

Cavalry takes the worry of out travel by providing 24/7 access to medical and security professionals combined with the best medical evacuation and security extraction services. Cavalry gets you home safely when you need it most. Learn more at Cavalrytravelinsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Seven Corners

Seven Corners has helped customers all over the world with travel difficulties, big and small. As one of the few remaining privately owned travel insurance companies, Seven Corners provides insurance plans and 24/7 travel assistance services to more than a million people each year. Because we’re privately held, we can focus on the customer without the constraints that larger companies have. Visit Seven Corners to learn more.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Sodexo North America

Sodexo North America Sodexo North America is part of a global, Fortune 500 company with a presence in 80 countries. Sodexo is a leading provider of integrated food, facilities management and other services that enhance organizational performance, contribute to local communities and improve quality of life for millions of customers in corporate, education, healthcare, senior living, sports and leisure, government and other environments daily. Learn more at Sodexoinsights.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelex Insurance Services

Travelex Insurance Services is a leading travel insurance provider in the United States with over 55 years combined industry expertise of helping people dream, explore and travel with confidence. We offer comprehensive travel insurance plans with optional upgrades allowing travelers to customize the plans to fit their needs. Compare plans, get a quote and buy online at Travelexinsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by AirHelp

AirHelp is the world’s leading flight delays compensation company, helping passengers apply for compensation following a delayed or canceled flight or when boarding has been denied. It is AirHelp’s mission to fight for passenger rights by holding airlines accountable for flights disruptions that are out of passengers’ control. AirHelp has already helped 5 million people, taking the stress out of applying for compensation and making it as hassle-free as possible for travelers around the world.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Allianz Travel Insurance

The Allianz Travel Insurance company has built its reputation on partnering with agents all around the world to provide comprehensive travel insurance for their clients. Contact Allianz Travel Insurance for a comprehensive list of coverage.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Chubb

Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company, and recognized as the premier provider of insurance for successful individuals and families in the U.S. and selected international markets, offering coverage for high-value automobile, homeowners, recreational marine/aviation, valuables and umbrella liability coverage. As an underwriting company, Chubb assesses, assumes and manages risk with insight and discipline, and combines the precision of craftsmanship with decades of experience to conceive, craft and deliver the best insurance coverage and services to individuals, families and business of all size.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Enterprise Holdings

A family-owned, world-class portfolio of brands. A global network that spans across more than 85 countries. Some 97,000 dedicated team members sharing common values. And more than 1.9 million vehicles taking our customers wherever they need to go.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Fareportal

Fareportal’s portfolio of brands, which include  CheapOair and  OneTravel, are dedicated to helping customers enjoy their trip. Whether you want to call, click, or use one of our travel apps, one thing is clear: We make it easy to take it easy.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Insuremyrentalcar.com

An independent provider of low cost CDW/LDW insurance for use with rental cars. Up to $100,000 cover with no deductible. Policies available on a per day, per trip or per year basis. Also works with overseas rentals. Try  Insuremyrentalcar.comnow.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by InsureMyTrip

It’s simple. InsureMyTrip finds you the right travel insurance plan, every time. InsureMyTrip is the authority on travel insurance. Rated A+ for travel insurance by the Better Business Bureau. All travelers that purchase a policy through  InsureMyTrip have access to Anytime Advocates® for claims assistance.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Mediacom Communications

The nation’s fifth-largest cable operator, serving the smaller cities and towns in the Midwest and Southern regions of the United States. We are a high-performance broadband, entertainment, and communications company that brings the power of modern technology and quality customer experience to life inside the connected home by combining ultra-fast gigabit speeds with personalized local and over-the-top entertainment choices that fit your lifestyle. Details at  Mediacomcable.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by SCOTTeVEST

An innovative apparel brand for people who want easy access to everything they need. For those who live for every second, SCOTTeVEST lets you maximize your life. Ditch the carry-on bag and pick up a  SCOTTeVEST.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Virtuoso

The leading global network for luxury and experiential travel. This invitation-only organization comprises over 1,000 travel agency locations with 17,500 advisors in over 45 countries, and holds preferred relationships with 1,700 of the world’s finest travel companies. Virtuoso advisors collaborate with their clients to create personalized itineraries featuring exclusive perks, while also providing advice, access, advocacy, and accountability. For more information, visit  Virtuoso.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by VisitorsCoverage

As a company that is constantly striving to simplify travel insurance, VisitorsCoverage, is on a mission to help travelers make the better decisions about purchasing travel insurance, quickly. VisitorsCoverage has helped millions of travelers globally to buy the suitable travel insurance and explore the world with confidence. Get insurance for your next trip at  VisitorsCoverage. Lowest Price Guaranteed.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by MedjetAssist

Medjet is the premier global air-medical transport, travel security and crisis response membership program for travelers. With a MedjetAssist membership, if you become hospitalized more than 150 miles from home, we will get you from that unfamiliar hospital all the way home to the hospital you trust. All you ever pay is your membership fee. MedjetHorizon members add 24/7 personal security and crisis response benefits. Elliott.org readers enjoy discounted rates. Travel safer with  MedjetAssist.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Southwest Airlines

The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by TravelInsurance.com

TravelInsurance.com makes it fast and easy to compare and buy travel insurance online from top rated providers. Our unbiased comparison engine allows travelers to read reviews, compare pricing and benefits and buy the right policy with a price guarantee, every time. Compare and buy travel insurance now at  TravelInsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Squaremouth

Squaremouth helps travelers easily and instantly compare travel insurance policies from all major providers. Only companies that meet the strict requirements of Squaremouth’s Zero Complaint Guarantee are available on the website. Compare policies on  Squaremouth.com to save over 70 percent on your next purchase.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travel Leaders Group

Travel Leaders Group is transforming travel through its progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Travel Leaders Group assists millions of travelers through its leisure, business and network travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands including All Aboard Travel, Andrew Harper Travel, Colletts Travel, Corporate Travel Services, CruCon Cruise Outlet, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International, SinglesCruise.com, Travel Leaders Corporate, Travel Leaders Network and Tzell Travel Group, and its merger with ALTOUR. With more than 7,000 agency locations and 52,000 travel advisors, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest retail travel agency companies.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelers United

If you’ve been mistreated by the airlines, Travelers United is your voice in Washington. Join the #1 travel advocacy organization working with Congress to improve and protect travelers. Plus, get $400 of annual benefits you can use for travel for only $29/year. Add your voice to ours. Make travel better.  Join today.