Every social media user and brand has an online reputation, and social media has amplified the importance of reputation management. If a customer has a negative experience, they can take to social media and share that experience with all of their followers. One negative experience can go viral in seconds.
The best way to manage that reputation is by listening and engaging. You have to be aware of what people are saying about you or your brand on social media. When a customer does complain, a swift and personally tailored response can prevent a single complaint from turning into a full-throttle crisis. A lot of times customers just want to feel like they’ve been heard. The few times I’ve taken to social media to complain about a brand or service, I have just wanted to be acknowledged and feel like the brand values me as a customer. When those brands didn’t bother to respond, they have lost me as a customer.
Two customers who have taken to social media to vent about negative experiences are Dave Carroll (above), who created a video after United Airlines broke his guitar, and Hasan Syed, who promoted a tweet about British Airways’ bad customer service (below). It must be a rough job working in customer service for an airline!
I’m not sure that I would do the same things that these men did to be heard (mainly from a lack of talent and lack of money!), but I think their actions were justified and ethical. They had negative experiences, and they didn’t want those experiences to be ignored. Maybe they hoped their actions would prevent other people from having those same negative experiences, so as a customer, I thank them.
After British Airways and United Airways’ failures were spotlighted on social media, there were several steps they should have taken to appease these men and safeguard their reputations. They should have responded quickly (it may have prevented some of the backlash) and immediately apologized. In their apology they should have iterated that this isn’t the typical experience with the brand or the standard that the brand hopes to achieve. Finally, after getting the full story from the men, the airlines should have offered some sort of compensation if it was justified, and with the broken guitar, I think it was.
By quickly responding and not trying to hide mistakes, a brand can turn a potential crisis into a positive situation. They can prove that they’re human and make mistakes, but they do care about their customers’ experiences.