How American Airlines Punched My Friend In The Face And Their Social Response

by / Friday, 31 January 2014 / Published in Uncategorized

The Issue

A friend of mine was hurt a few nights ago by a major airline company. She and her daughter are planning to fly American Airlines, en route, to catch a cruise. American Airlines changed her flight, forcing her to have more layovers, with no direct flight. Then American Airlines told her they would refund her money so she could buy from another airline company. However, because the travel change is close to her actual travel date, all other airlines were now more expensive.

These layovers and changes would negatively affect all her travel plans! Yuck!

Then, American Airlines attempted to justify this mistake, with a pretty poor apology on Facebook. They tried to use social media to communicate something that should have been handled over a phone call or with a call center supervisor.

After trying to resolve everything via email and a call center experience, my friend took to Facebook and posted below.

Her experience with their call center and their email customer service can only be described as a punch in the face.

Here is American Airlines response to my friends experience, via Facebook:

AA 1



The aspect of the whole ordeal, was not that the plans were changed. Or that she was being forced to pay more through another airline provider. (although that is enough to send a person over the edge) Rather, it was in the social media response on Facebook, the lack of customer service via email and over the phone with their call center. All three touch points with American Airlines were terrible!

See my friends response below. As you can see, the level of customer service was extremely low via email and my friend is frustrated. (the frustration is also very warranted!)

AA 3


Marketing On Social Is Hard

The reason I’m writing this blog post is NOT to shame American Airlines. It is to help them and other companies that use social media as a marketing tool for their brands. Social is hard and they need help!

Airline companies, like American, should know that their customers are the most socially devoted on the web. Meaning, airline and travel industries customer’s talk online about their experiences more than any other industry. That said, airline companies have to strive to get customer service right, online!

I am sure American Airlines is not the only airline company to struggle with customer service. And the travel industry is EXTREMELY hard to operate. I have empathy for airlines companies.

But that’s still no excuse to disappoint a guest that is flying on your airline, then give them crappy excuses.

More importantly, every company will have customer service issues. The real measure of that company is HOW you resolve and handle that conflict. American Airlines could responded differently, online. (I personally feel they have become lazy in their marketing; see my previous blog post)


Awesome Social Media Marketing Responses

Even though companies like American Airlines get it wrong, there is hope. There are many companies that do a great job using social to build their brand.

Here are some great examples of awesome marketing-driven customer service, online and some tips for American Airlines.

Attest Retail is a retailer based in California. They had a negative response and responded with a direct email address and affirmed their guest!



Dollar Shave Club, a B2C shave and consumable goods company, responded to a customer service issue, in this example. 




What Is The Solution

Here are some awesome social media marketing tactics that companies, like American Airlines, can use to better communicate with their customers.

  1. Reply to the best positive comments. Make sure your best comments via Twitter and Facebook are praised! Be sure and Re-Tweet all positive comments about your brand via Twitter and praise your customers by commenting on Facebook.
  2. Be brief when replying to negative comments. If your social media response is longer than 1 paragraph, it is too long! For negative comments, reply constructively and keep them brief. Remove any emotion in your reply and keep the authors of negative comments focused on a direct contact phone number or email. Try and take the comments off-line and resolve the customer service issue. A simple response like ‘We hear you and that is terrible! So sorry you had an issue with our company. Here is a our supervisors direct line. 800-555-1234. Please reach out to him. Sorry again!’
  3. Never delete negative comments! Ever disturb a hornets nest? Ever surprise a Grizzly bear with cubs? Not pretty. In other words, don’t provoke angry customers. Do not delete negative comments and reply to them with grace and empathy. If you delete their comments, without affirming them, you will upset them even more. Leave the negative comment up on Facebook or Twitter and show your customers that you care and can positively resolve customer service issues.
  4. Give out personal information. If an upset customer leaves a negative response, deal with it right away. To help accomplish this, leave a direct contact phone number where the customer can call someone to vent and resolve the issue. Do not let the comments go on and on. Deal with the issue head on and satisfy the customer.
  5. Affirm your guest and customers. When people are upset, do not attempt to justify your companies screw-up. Own up, say you’re sorry and resolve the conflict. By doing what American Airlines did, you are only stoking the fire. Affirming is NOT admitting guilt or agreeing with your customer’s point of view. It is simply acknowledging their frustration and showing compassion. Very few people do this well and even fewer companies consistently do this online. Affirm, affirm, affirm! Learn more about how to affirm well, by reading this blog post and watching the video link! 

I hope American Airlines resolved their issue with Tina. She is awesome and they NEED to help her!

What a great social media win that could be for AA! Not to mention, they would have a customer for life!

How do you resolve customer service issues online? How are you using social media? Share your experience in the comments section below!

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