In my class del.icio.us feed, I came across a story entitled Pushy bloggers to travel industry: Be nice. I found this article (written by Christopher Elliott) to be particularly interesting because it really shows how far the travel industry has come in terms of customer service, thanks to Web 2.0.
Let’s rewind back 10-15 years. Suppose you had a terrible experience on a flight with one of the airline staff members. Immediate action would usually consist of requesting to speak with a manager. Some may have gone a step further by writing a letter (or an email, if they had access) to the manager. You may have received some sort of apology, or, if you were lucky, a refund or coupon. However, this was a slow process. Web 2.0 has completely turned things around.
In his article, Elliott gives examples of how this plays out in today’s world. One is about a bad experience that someone had at a Las Vegas hotel; the manager extended an apology and offered a free 2-night stay. Another lady posted a blog about faulty child seats from Advantage Rent-a-Car that caught the attention of ABC news; this led to California changing their child safety-seat laws.
Twitter is making it even faster and easier to express poor service, and allows members to interact with one another on issues. As Rachel King puts it:
Companies have figured out Twitter provides the opportunity to listen to what customers are saying about their brands, and to respond. Still, it’s not easy for a corporation to strike the right tone on Twitter. Some brands on Twitter seem too formal and stilted while others seem interested in using it only as a one-way PR channel. And then there’s the delicate issue of corporations following unsuspecting customers and responding to their complaints about brands. Even though the intentions are good, it might be a bit startling for customers to find out the folks from the brand are eavesdropping on their tweets.
King shines light on both the pros and cons of tweeting about customer service, but I believe that more good comes from this “conversation” between brands and consumers.