Last month, I returned from Germany and my bag did not. An experienced traveler, I wasn’t even worried. My bag has always made its way back home. But when it wasn’t delivered the next day as promised, I called the Delayed Baggage Department and learned that my bag was not on its way home. In fact, no one had any idea where it was or how to find it.
Amazingly, when I hung up from the (very polite) Delayed Baggage Department and tweeted to the airline’s social media team, they found my bag inside of 15 minutes.
Why did the social media team have more success than the department whose job it was to solve the exact issue I was having? Organizations have figured out that an angry social media post can live forever and spread like wildfire, so those customers – right or wrong – are often given more consideration than the customers conversing in private channels.
The Delayed Baggage Department employee specifically shared that he had limited visibility to my bag. He could see I checked it in Munich, but (because it was a partner airline) that was where his access stopped. The social media contact for the airline collected the same data from me via direct message and was able to find my bag. Did they make a phone call? Do they have a different level of access to information? Are they magical? It’s hard to say – and it would be different in every organization. What was clear from my experience was that the social media employee was empowered with the right tools and allowed to take the additional time to research the issue I was having whereas the first employee was not.
The Lesson for Social Media Strategists
Does this mean traditional customer service is dead? Or that all these companies care about is their digital presence? Of course not. These are business decisions. The Delayed Baggage Department has a set of tools that probably works perfectly for 95% of the cases that come to them. They can work efficiently and the airline can maintain a reasonable budget for the department. That same airline has also figured out that investing a little more in social media support and empowering those employees to think outside the box is the perfect way to maintain a healthy digital presence – paying off by limiting complaints, but also by generating good press when the situation is resolved swiftly. (I tweeted my thanks as soon as my bag made it home!)
We talk about having a response plan in Online Community Management, and our certified strategists often share stories like this. But has every organization figured it out? I think it’s safe to say social media strategists still have a lot of work to do. For now, we can keep sharing our success stories and hope the organizations still on the fence eventually see the power in empowering social media employees.
Do you have a story to share that can help others understand the value of having a trained social media team managing your customer service? Please share it in the comments!
Author: Amy Jauman
Dr. Amy Jauman, SMS, is the Chief Learning Officer at the National Institute for Social Media and author of the Comprehensive Field Guide for Social Media Strategists. Amy is also one of 58 members representing 12 countries in the inaugural class of the Prezi Educator Society. Previously she was the Social Media Director for Women Entrepreneurs of Minnesota (WeMN) and she currently serves as the marketing director for the Minnesota Chapter of the National Speakers Association. She is also an adjunct professor in the St. Catherine University Business Department and the St. Mary’s University of Minnesota MBA program.
I never would have thought to go this route. Thank you for the tip Amy.
You’re welcome! It’s amazing what we come up with when we’re desperate…As I said in the blog, delayed bags don’t worry me a bit! But I had very different feelings when they said my bag was simply GONE. It turned out to be a great learning experience!