Posts Tagged With: Twitter

@United Airlines: How not to do customer service

Regular readers of this blog will know that I’m the first to give credit when customer service works but also believe that when companies fail it needs to be pointed out so that they can improve for the benefit of everyone in the future.

This is especially true when a company is attempting to use technology to better assist customers – or in this example further frustrating customers by not using the technology effectively.

The background
I came to America for the Apple World Wide Developer Conference flying with United Airlines. The plan was to fly Manchester to Washington, Washington to Pheonix, Tuscon to San Francisco, San Francisco to Newark, Newark to Manchester. Lots of flights but I’d made sure that on every leg of the journey there was plenty of time for connections and was genuinely very excited.

What went wrong?
Now we all know that things do sometimes go wrong and sometimes it’s about how companies respond that can make or break the situation.

The first flight was great, we landed in Washington and everything seemed spot on. Unfortunately there was a short delay (2 hours) on the Pheonix flight but that wasn’t going to be a problem as we would still land in time for me to get the last shuttle to Tuscon.

We boarded the plane – unfortunately due to a technical fault we were left sitting on the Tarmac for 3 hours while engineers attempted to fix the issue. It became apparent that the fault could not be fixed so we were asked to get off the plane and head to an alternative gate a 30 minute walk away. We then boarded the new plane and were kept waiting a further hour while bags were transferred before finally taking off – landing in Pheonix around 7 hours late meaning I had to sleep in the airport for 4 hours as I had missed the last shuttle. My 24 hour journey became 35 hours

The flight from Tuscon to San Francisco was without incident.

Returning home was an entirely different story. First I arrived at San Francisco to be told that my baggage was over weight. Now this seemed odd to me as it was the same weight as when I arrived in the US – I hadn’t added anything to the suitcase.

The flight was initially delayed by an hour due to storms in Newark, they boarded us onto the plane and then made us wait on the Tarmac until takeoff. They openly admitted that we were going to travel in a smaller plane than originally planned but the jet they put us onto was not a suitable size for a 6 hour flight in my opinion.

On the way into Newark we were put into a holding pattern for 45 minutes before landing some 90 minutes late. The connecting flight to Manchester had also been delayed (i guess fortunately) by around 2 hours resulting in an extended travel time back to the uk.

Flights get delayed all the time?

This is true, and is not what has promoted this article; throughout my whole experience with United I have found them unreceptive, and unwilling to offer customer assistance and support.

What I expected vs what I got

I thought it worth while to publish some constructive feedback for United that may assist them in making sure that customers like me are happy in the future even if there is a delay.

1. Poor signage – on several occasions during the trip the airline failed to update the signs accurately often stating incorrect destinations on gates, or just not advising passengers what was going on. This just leads to frustration and confusion …. Get the simple things right.

2. Airline staff not present – when there is a delay we like to talk to someone in the know about what’s going on. My experience with united is that checking desks are typically unmanned with little or no information being posted. This leaves passengers frustrated and over time leads to angry customers – I witnessed one example of such frustration being taken out on a member of staff which could easily have been avoided.

3. Delayed in Washington for 6 hours meant that all of the passengers needed food. No one wanted to eat at 1am when we eventually took off so it would have been a nice gesture to offer passengers a meal voucher as compensation – nothing materialised.

4. United did offer a compensation of a reduced internal US flight to passengers on the Washington flight. Clearly no consideration here for international passengers. It would ave been better to ask passengers how they could help. I’d have been delighted if there had a shower available to use.

5. Don’t load passengers onto a plane until it’s ready t take off. Sitting on the tarmac is not a fun experience especially if its several hours before a long haul flight. If you are going to do this at least offer passengers a cup of coffee – it’s only polite!

6. This is where technology hits. United have a Twitter account @united that claims to offer customer service to passengers. I tweeted @united several times during my trip and found that they tended to ignore me. Now I admit I maybe sent a few to many tweets, but the irony is that the more they ignored me the more I tweeted. If you are going to use social media as a means of customer service then you need to engage your passengers; asking what they can do to help and then ignoring the response only infuriates people. I would have settled for an apology, maybe a free cup of coffee?

They asked me what they could do so I tweeted back “give me an upgrade, or a refund” at least answer and say that isn’t possible and offer an alternative – as it stands I have the impression they were only paying me lip service and never actually intended to do anything which begs the question why are they using twitter at all?

7. If a bag is heavy on the way out charge for it then ….. If you carry the bag out of the country you surely have a duty to bring it back?

8. Always make sure there is a meal on a long haul flight. There wasn’t one from San Francisco to Newark – 7 hours including the delay is to long to go without food.

Now I’m not saying that doing all of the above would have made me happy about the delay; but I would have walked away thinking that @united had done all they could to make the situation better and that they cared about me as a customer.

As it stands I’ve left thinking that @United Airlines actually couldn’t give a stuff about me or how their failures have impacted my trip. I’ll certainly avoid flying with @united in the future and I wold strongly encourage others to do the same.

Maybe the true test of United’s customer service is how they respond to this article. Will they take on board the suggestions? Issue an apology? Admit they got it wrong? Do @United actually care?

Have you had any good or bad airline experiences? Maybe you to have flown United – what was your experience? Comment on the blog or tweet @United to let them know!

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Are you ready to “vine”

We all live in the age of social media and I’ve adopted pretty much everything going. I remember doing my a-levels and MySpace was the big thing. My space was founded in 2003 and I loved it. At the same time we had other sites such as Bebo which although I had an account never really “took off” – at least not in my world.

MySpace was the first site that I actively communicated with my friends via an online medium – but when I took my gap year back in 2004 I didn’t consider using it as a way to keep in touch with people. It was more about bands and music – it wasn’t what I would consider social.

Then in 2007 something happened that revolutionised online socialising – I found Facebook! It was new, innovative and different and for the firs 18 months I was logged on 24/7 finding friends and updating my status every 5 minutes. It was cool and everyone was doing it!

It took me a little while to find Twitter and get to grips with it; but like FaceBook it did change the way I communicated online. When I connected FaceBook to Twitter I felt like my online life was complete.

Now there have been copy cats, I’m not a fan of Google plus and I don’t buy into these websites that are trying to be “FaceBook” but I am ready for more innovation.

In recent months Pinterest has caught my attention and in some ways I’m finding that I use this more than FaceBook especially in a work context. It feels creative and I like that. A couple of weeks ago I found myself on Pinterest and I came across a link to “vine” which was founded in June 2012 and has recently been bought by Twitter. Vine allows users to create 6 second video clips that loop and then embed in them in social networking sites such as Pinterest, FaceBook and Twitter.

My question is given all of the other social networking sites out there, and the fact that I already spend so much time sharing my life online – is there room for a service such as vine? Or could Vine actually change the way I use Pinterest in the same way that Twitter changed the way I use FaceBook.

One thing is for certain any good social networking site needs a verb to describe the activity. I currently Tweet on Twitter, Pin on Pinterest , Share or Like on FaceBook …… How will we describe “To Vine” if it does indeed become the new “in way” to communicate. Any Ideas?

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Footsqueek Blog: How long do you spend online?

As some readers might know I am Managing Director at Footsqueek (The Mobile App Company). Footsqueek does a lot of works schools and has a keen interest in education. One of the contributors to the Footsqueek blog recently posted a fascinating article about Information Overload in the 21st Century and as part of the article he examined what happens in 60 seconds on the internet:

Infographic by- Shanghai Web Designers

This really got me thinking about what I do on the internet; indeed I started considering how much time I spend being productive online and how much time I spend procrastinating. For me the internet is definitely a recreational tool first and a work tool second; in reality, however, I couldn’t be without the internet in either context – I would estimate I use the internet for in excess of 6 hours every day, 365 days a year.

Amazing to think that the web has went from a “nice to have” to being an essential tool in less than 15 years.

How long do you spend on the net?

 

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The Future and Social Networks

Social networking is an interesting concept in todays society – I guess like most people who use the internet it’s become part of my everyday life. The question i’ve been asking myself recently though is why? It seems that once everyone you know is a friend on facebook it somehow looses it’s appeal – anyone else with me on that?

In the early days part of the fun was finding people who you knew or had known in the past. Now that this novelty has worn off is there a point to FaceBook? I certainly don’t update my status 20 times a day like I did when the site was first launched.

Part of the problem with social networking is that brands like FaceBook and Twitter seem to own the concept. I said FaceBook and Twitter as though this were the only form of social networking – and to many this really is the case. Most people have heard of those brands and have an account on those websites ….. how many other networks do you regularly use? Are you part of the “technorati” for example? Has “pinterest” grabbed your attention? is there room for another brand or is the market now saturated? Is it even possible that people are starting to get board of the concept and look for the next new thing?

It seems to me that the primary function of social networking is marketing and in my view this will be short lived as internet users will begin to turn their back on brands such as FaceBook as the appeal starts to wear off and they slowly become desensitised to the promotional adverts. The idea of sponsored stories which is currently common place on FaceBook is certainly clever but do people want to use a website that consistently asks them to engage with and “like” new things?

In many ways the social networking boom could be compared with the .com boom in the late 1990’s; the .com bubble eventually burst and maybe this will also be true of the social networking phenomenon. I’m not sure if the recent FaceBook stock market floatation can be seen as a true indicator of the future for social networks but it certainly does make you wonder if social media has peaked – controversial? Let me know your views.

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How “social” is “social media”?

It occurs to me that the world seems to have become obsessed with “Social Media” – but what does the term actually mean?

Websites like FaceBook and Twitter seem to have coined the term for themselves in such a way that the brands are used almost interchangeably when discussing social media but the idea of media being social isn’t a new concept.

If I read an article on a website or in a newspaper that interests me then at some stage I will bring it up in conversation and i’ll discuss it with friends. Traditional media in this context is social and arguably more social that FaceBook and Twitter because it generally necessitates an actual social interaction in the real world.

This had led me to question how “social” is “social media”?  What are your thoughts?

 

Categories: Social, Technology | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

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