Saturday, February 20, 2010

Twitter DOESN'T Make Up For The Fact That The Rest of Your Customer Service Sucks - A South West Airlines vs. Disney Story {DesaraeV}

Director Kevin Smith was forced off his South West flight because he is "Too Fat for the Flight." South West responded by offering Kevin a hundred dollar voucher and an apology via Twitter. Which begs the question, is Twitter the most appropriate medium for an apology and why wait until you need to apologize?

Don't Just Wrangle in The Negative PR After the Fact
The great thing about Twitter is that you can track sentiment, your name, your brand and then try to wrangle in the bad PR. The problem is that now companies the world over are using Twitter as a safety net instead of just offering great customer service to start with. Having a great defense team doesn't win the game it just slows down the loss.

Train Your Offense
You need an all around great product or service, we know that, but your staff is important too. Your staff represents your brands voice and the way your staff responds to guest needs is how they will remember their experience. If you can prevent a client from being upset or hating you (ie. writing an angry post on Twitter) then you can use your defense team a little less. Start by setting up customer service policies and online policies so that EVERYONE on staff knows how to respond to your clients in different situations. Great companies anticipate a guests needs before the guest makes the request.

Treating Clients like House Guests
I keep saying your "guest" because it sounds much nicer then client and makes the term sound more human. You have a guest in your home, your friend visiting your office is also a guest and I keep telling you to think of social media like building relationships (ie. friendships). Most hotels and Disney seem to have this guest mentality down pat.

A Disney Story
In junior high school, at the age of probably twelve or thirteen, my parents took my little brother and me to Florida, a cruise and the Bahamas. During this fun vacation in the sun we spent a couple of days at Disney World. My brother and I grew up without cable and instead my parents bought us hundreds of movies. Most of the movies that our family owned where Disney movies. Needless to say we grew up adoring Disney and looking forward to one day visiting this magical theme park. Don't say at thirteen I was too old to appreciate this place because even at the age of twenty-four I still hope to one day visit Disney again, maybe one day I could even be so lucky to meet some of the Disney Imagineer team.

We finally arrived at Disney, full of child-like anticipation. Our trip started out with a magical trip on their space-like above ground train. Even though millions of other families visit this place every year, I distinctly remember feeling like one of the luckiest kids alive. Once we passed through the big gates my parents gave us our allowance (money we earned for good grades or doing our chores.. yes my parents actually taught us the value of responsible spending early-although that is another tangent and clearly we where a spoiled pair based on this story alone).


After they handed us our money, my parents picked a place for us to meet if we got separated and visited a few rides together. We quickly realized that Disney World was too vast to visit everything in one day and that the kids wanted to see different adventures then what our parents wanted to see. So we picked a restaurant to meet at and a time that we would all meet, remember that is what people used to do before kids had their own cell phones.

To thank my parents for this magical trip, my brother and I pooled our allowance together to buy a Disney trinket for our parents. We had been so sure that this thing would make our parents happy and would be able to fully represent just how happy they had made us. In the middle of our laughter and excitement at our new purchase, my little brother dropped the glass gift. Our little hearts immediately dropped to the ground because we both knew that we didn't have enough money to buy anything else for our parents, we'd planned this and ruined it within steps of leaving the little shop. Our faces must have gave us away immediately because a janitor watched this whole scene unfold from afar. I don't remember the wonderful persons name or face. I don't even remember if this person was a man or a women but I remember them being the hero in this story. Let's call this Disney hero Annie just for the purpose of this story.

Annie immediately rushed over to us and walked my brother and I back into the store and got us a new little glass statue for our parents. We felt so bad and knew that we didn't deserve it, but all I remember was how kind all of them where. Annie made our day. The "thing" we bought our parents wasn't perfect although I'm sure they appreciated the gesture. The gesture is what made the day memorable. The gesture by Annie and the gesture for our parents. The behavior and policies that enable everyone in the company to give Disney's guests small acts of kindness that stick with them for a life time. Some day I will take my kids to Disney World and I hope Disney's staff are just as kind and compelling.

How do you want your company to be remembered? Do your guess talk about your brand for kindness or because you are stingy and always needing to apologize for company policies?

I'm sorry if you don't like my sports references, but @MNHeadhunter said I would start to connect with my male readers if I used more sports less fashion. It'll get better I promise.

Kevin may want to check out this post by Naturally Curvy called Riding Greyhound While Fat.

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