Twitter before anything else a tool of communication, which large companies, such as airlines for example, use to improve the relationships with their clients providing them with a follow-up or additional customer care service. However, there are numerous ill-made decisions and misuse of the Twitter potential in terms of branding and upholding the image of the company.
The companies that drew attention to their proficient skill in using the Twitter platform are American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines, and United Airlines. It is obvious that the general principles of use are similar. However, each company has a specific trait that distinguishes it from the others in terms of how they communicate with their clients.
Document A: American Airlines
American Airlines Twitter account is obviously the busiest. The tweets are uploaded into the system at a rate of approximately 1-2 per minute. The most frequent topic which American Airline clients address is the quality of service provided by the airline. Of course, this topic is rather broad. Nonetheless, it ranges from gratitude to unsatisfactory comments from fuming clients, from information requests about the flight to messages about lost baggage. People also ask questions on the detained flights and express their discontent at the situation
Now the above might mean two things. The first is that the representative of the American Airlines does not really want everyone to see the conversation with the client who is showing his disapproval at the airline services. This might have been the cause, if such a request was used solely for negative messages or tweets. However, the second thing that the whole situation might mean is that it is easier for the Twitter Account Moderator to keep track of the situation and not look for the person to respond to in the whole thread of tweets that is being updated by the minute.
A nice example is the visible conversation with Gary Christiansen @gary0599 (https://twitter.com/AmericanAir/status/827218108897226752). Here we see that having replied to the first somewhat perplexed in emotion tweet, American Airlines Twitter Account Moderator requested the conversation to be transferred to the DM section as the second tweet by Mr. Christiansen was much more heated. It goes without saying that the correspondence is accomplished in a more or less official and polite tone. Another example of the above is the situation with a person nickname @dinedrinktravel (https://twitter.com/AmericanAir/status/826971171274977280). In this case unfortunately it seems that the polite tone of the twitter account moderator was not able to subdue the demanding request of the customer, who openly claimed that no-one at American Airlines was able to help him. He again was transferred to DM, and it is impossible to find out whether the situation was resolved or not. It seems that the AA Twitter team are not inclined to go public with the problem or its solution and prefer to communicate via other means. When there are no problems AA Twitter team simply express their pleasure at words of gratitude or praise, and keep the wording more or less the same. Over time, this might seem that they are answering according to some pattern. Quite rarely, AA would retweet their client if there were something interesting like a photo or video. The tweet made by Stephanie Fisher is exactly the case here (https://twitter.com/CuratedTraveler/status/821737079822581761).
The American Airlines Twitter account is currently not developing any further. The same routine like issues have been observed for the past week. The AA Twitter account does not seem to have a strictly defined purpose. People use it to praise and scold AA, ask questions about flights and are eventually redirected to Customer Support, start a wave of indignation and be asked to write a DM. This concept is wrong. AA needs to learn to use Twitter to promote its brand image. If there is a problem it is better to show it, however, focus not on the problem, but on the ability of the AA team to provide a solution. What is more frustrating is that in their request to shift to DM, the AA team member simply says that they will “check it out” as mentioned in the conversation with a Twitter user @lumberjackgreg (https://twitter.com/AmericanAir/status/827201666738905088). Now these words do not necessarily imply providing a solution. Moreover, such an approach will for sure not attract more clients. Seeing a constant request to write in DM makes one thinking whether any problems have been solved at all. Besides, the past week did not show any return customers tweeting again.
Document B: Delta Air Lines
Although the company is working in the same sphere as AA, Delta Air Lines has a somewhat varied list of topics its clients would like to discuss. Foremost one could not help but notice the amount of regretful messages about using Delta and the amount of problems the Delta Air Lines services have caused. From delayed flight to maintenance check, to missed connection like Lindsay Morse @LindsayMorseMT (https://twitter.com/Delta/status/827267064725266432) – people are frustrated. Of course there a tweets where some customers do leave a positive comment or even thank the company employees. However, the ratio between a frustrated comment and a positive response is approximately 3 to 2. People bring up the issues they have been having such as a missed flight, flight registration, baggage claims, or some photos of their experience during the flight (Maggie Nielsen https://twitter.com/Delta/status/827259058843365377)
The main purpose that Delta Air Lines clients are addressing the company through Twitter is a hope for a swift response and ideally a solution to the problems that they might be experiencing. However, it seems that the Delta Air Lines Twitter account is more used to discussing compensation as in the case with Adam Kootz (https://twitter.com/Delta/status/827273475140120578) and Jake Edward (https://twitter.com/Delta/status/827227919437197313).
The company is building its relationship with its clients in a rather open way. When compared to AA, only several instances of requesting the client to change to DM were noticed in the past week. Moreover, that was because for privacy reasons (Lindsay Morse https://twitter.com/Delta/status/827267064725266432). The rest is kept out in the open for other people to see. Thus, we can say that the policy conducted by Delta Air Lines is very much pro-client and transparent. Of course the communication is not at all official, Jake Edward (https://twitter.com/Delta/status/827227919437197313) being the example. Nonetheless, when the client is frustrated, Delta Air Lines Twitter Team come up to the problem in a rather professional way.
Of course, no-one is perfect. Moreover, the Delta Air Lines Twitter Team consists of humans and not robot, otherwise mistakes and forgetfulness would not have place during client experience. The situation with the user @RetailWhisperer (https://twitter.com/Delta/status/827274903283851266) could not be more horrific. Despite being stranded in ATL airport during what was supposed to be a family vacation, the response on Twitter came only after 20 hours with a claim that the client did not send the correct information in the DM. Such a response is atrocious and no wonder the client was left fuming and angry. Besides, up to now no response was given by the Delta Air Lines Team to the last reproach and inquiry made by this client. Such a development of the situation simply cannot be tolerated. No different is the situation with Mark Kogelmann @MarkKogelmann (https://twitter.com/Delta/status/827291383740370944) who claims Delta broke their baby stroller. Of course, Mr. Kogelmann is an enraged client, especially claiming the company failed in providing them with the best possible service. The response is awful enough when the Delta Air Lines Twitter Team suggests the obvious and contact the Baggage Team. Instead of helping out, they are imply “transferring” the client to another department.
The issues that Delta Air Lines is facing are currently depicted in their operation of the Twitter account. Numerous complaints, claims and reproaches made by the clients cannot be out-weighted by a significant amount of positive responses. The bad service and the inability to assist the client this very instance are issues that make the client think whether he/she would like to fly Delta again. Although the focus on problems and issues that have been resolved or compensated for is present
Document C: Southwest Airlines
If in the twitter feed of the company account the clients see people moaning about WiFi (Anya Hunt @ayahuntt https://twitter.com/SouthwestAir/status/827217153925357568) that set the mind of working and thinking that the company is actually doing good job. People contact @SouthwestAir to get the support they need in servicing a flight, requesting information about a service or flight, or have a client being a little sad that the company website is down. More so, the company employees use the DM to check up on the client who have recently filed a complaint and check out how the person is doing (@_Tgoodie https://twitter.com/SouthwestAir/status/827201443803181056).
The purpose for having this range of topics discussed from the Southwest Airlines Twitter account is to actually assist the clients and help people with the problems they then experienced. A professional, although at the same time friendly approach sets the tone of the conversation, making the clients refuse the use of all extra non-relevant information. The swiftness of response from Southwest Airlines inspires to do more for the people. Although there are exceptions as in the case with Emily Frake (@emiy_frake https://twitter.com/SouthwestAir/status/827198693879066624) when the client is not satisfied and has filed a complaint but received no answer yet, such things are rare, the general overall perception of the work of Southwest Airlines Twitter Team is inspiring and holding the top spot for customer service.
The relationship with the client is built in a rather formal style. However, the conversations although wishing to be “cold and ruthless” are in fact worrisome and wishing to please the client. The Southwest Airlines Twitter Team does not often wait for an hour or any significantly large amount of time to respond to the client. Naturally, there are exceptions as in the case with Emily Frake (@emiy_frake https://twitter.com/SouthwestAir/status/827198693879066624). However, the majority of clients are left happy, or at least content. The general tone of the Twitter messages is neutral pertaining to the pleased.
What the company should be merited with is the undesire to waste the client’s time. In the Twitter feed with Diane Elizabeth @ManeGal31, the Southwest Airlines Twitter Support team already sees that there is no possibility to somehow redirect the conflict simply express their worry and hope for a better future experience (https://twitter.com/SouthwestAir/status/827174872056860674). However, what is more important is that the company is not afraid to admits its faults and issues it is facing. In a conversation with Scot Hobert @thelibscot (https://twitter.com/SouthwestAir/status/827171744200871937) it is clear that his claim and request were overlooked by a number of Southwest Airlines employees, however the Twitter team seems to be able to solve the problem, which they start to tackle at once.
In general, the Southwest Airlines Twitter Team seem to be consistent with their strategy of providing full time support for their customers. However, it might seem that the interaction level is a bit low. The Twitter Team is simply reacting to the tweets, but does not create specific tweets or news for the clients to react to. For Southwest Airlines Twitter team the account is used only as a resource for information, whereas it could be used more effectively in term of branding and creating a company image.
Document D: United Airlines
The United Airlines Twitter account is full of reprimand and dismay from the clients. The problems range from clients being booted off a connection flight (@scout_mb https://twitter.com/united/status/827225300391989248) to continuous delays in the flight of United airlines (@malcoop05 https://twitter.com/united/status/827289972768075776). People are not only furious but promising never to fly United Again. The situation is reminiscent of Delta, when numerous complaints flooded the account.
The problems addressed in Twitter have only one aim which is to get a fast response from the person responsible or at least someone who can help and solve the issue.
United Airlines despite the rather informal language on Twitter is aiming to build a professional relationship with its clients understanding that the latter’s behavior is solely due to their discontent. Being polite ad showing the desire to help do help to point out the United Twitter team among the rest. Though they do not surpass the other Twitter accounts (of airlines), they nonetheless match them.
@Joseph_Deluna (https://twitter.com/united/status/827286683376685056) I voicing out hi discontent at the experience of flying with United Airlines. Keeping everything professional the response is slightly too official with no claim to do everything we can to make the situation perfect again. Arohan Dutt @Arohawk (https://twitter.com/united/status/827283591797186564) has been fighting United for compensation as amends for an awful experience. However, instead of making a gesture, the company is trying to turn on its client and blame someone else or something for an ill-provided service.
The United Airlines Twitter account is used solely to take care of problems and claims the clients write about. It is important to start up marketing on twitter to increase sales and have more customers be loyal to your brand. However, the massive amount of claims will not allow to do this due to the burden dissatisfied customers are to the company.
The review of experience in using Twitter as a social media platform by the four Airlines mentioned above has provided us with an insight on the potential it has, the pros and cons of how each company uses it, and how it should be properly used to achieve maximum effect.
Southwest Airlines Frequent Flyer Club Member
Re.: The benefit of following the company Twitter account
It is our pleasure to inform you about the new possibilities that our customer care and service can provide you with. By keeping track of Southwest Airlines Twitter account, you will enjoy many benefits
Foremost, you will be able to get instant customer support without the need to call the company hotline or access the help chat function on the website. It is true that the first option is a pain to contact, whereas the second is quite often unavailable due to frequent maintenance. We find that Twitter is an ultimate choice that would solve the problem of communication between the client and the various departments of the company.
In the event that you would need an instant information update about your flight and the Departures section on the airport website is unavailable, we will be glad to accommodate you with all the necessary information regarding your flight. We understand you are most likely to have a tight schedule with numerous events that is difficult to keep track of. In the event of necessity, messages can be sent to your phone or Smartwatch just as a reminder about the upcoming flight so that you would not risk missing it.
The Southwest Airlines Twitter Team have it as their priority to provide the best possible information assistance in the smallest amount of time. There will be no need to wait on hold waiting for an operator to come to your assistance. As soon as you type in your message it will be reviewed by Southwest Airlines operator at once.
Another, not least important fact is the swiftness of response to a potential claim or experienced problems. In the event, you for some reason will be dissatisfied with a specific service that according to your beliefs or expectations was not tended to in a proper way then it is of utmost importance to make a claim about it. Of course it is our top priority that the clients of Southwest Airlines receive an unmatched experience, staying loyal to our company.
We are continuing to develop and implement new innovational ideas and methods of operation to facilitate you with a better experience and services.
Twitter as a social media tool is of immense importance to Southwest Airlines. Unfortunately, its full potential is not used. It is ok to respond to people’s inquiries, claims and assist them in virtually any way possible to keep them satisfied. However, the Southwest Airlines Twitter Team is generating any tweets themselves.
Apart from being able to provide a swift response or ask the client to shift to DM is vitally important to tie the positive responses our clients leave with the creation and posting of company specific news providing our clients with seen more benefits making them loyal only to us.
The main functions of Twitter is to read, write, post and follow the numerous messages specially composed for the clients to see. It has everything ready for use, and a large audience which follows the account promises to increase with each coming week. Since the length of a tweet is limited to 140 entries, symbols, information obtained from the service, compressed and does not contain excessiveness. Having a significant amount of people following your account Southwest Airlines will be able to keep abreast of what is happening on the Internet, receive links to articles and interesting information.
People like to express their opinion, to fill in surveys and other things that require their direct relationship to what is happening. What is important is the further development, thus there is no longer any need to restrain oneself. Try different types of tweet messages and observe the subsequent effects of this. The idea is to get your brain to think about different types of tweet content, which you will share with your followers.
Venture out and explore. Using technology in the future will be the only acceptable way for further development.
American Airlines. (2017). AA Twitter Account. Accessed on the 02 February 2017 at https://twitter.com/americanair
Delta Air Lines. (2017). Delta Air Lines Twitter Account. Accessed on the 02 February 2017 at https://twitter.com/delta
Southwest Airlines. (2017). Southwest Airlines Twitter Account. Accessed on the 02 February 2017 at https://twitter.com/southwestair
United Airlines. (2017). United Airlines Twitter Account. Accessed on the 02 February 2017 at https://twitter.com/united/