Online Reputation Management: Airlines and Twitter

Managing your online reputation is never easy, whether you’re an individual or a business. But airlines have it tougher than most. With people relying on prompt flights to get them to weddings, funerals, graduation ceremonies, and that well-deserved vacation, tempers can flare when flights get delayed or poor service is given. Let’s take a look at some of the major U.S. airlines and how they are (or aren’t) practicing good online reputation management, particularly Twitter.

Southwest Airlines

My personal favorite among U.S. carriers, Southwest has a pretty good social media team. I like that the responses to angry customers are signed with the initials of whatever employee is running the account. It gives it more of a human feel, rather than if you were just yelling at some nameless corporate account.

The human touch on Twitter makes it even more awkward that Southwest uses a bot for Facebook Messenger. Now, I understand that there’s a huge volume of requests–usually the same ones about flight times and delays–and Southwest simply doesn’t have the manpower to answer all of these requests. It makes perfect sense from a business standpoint and on that front, I support it all the way.

I’ll just make sure to turn to Twitter the next time I want to get in touch with Southwest, instead of Facebook.

Jet Blue

Like Southwest, they’ve got a pretty human touch with regards to their Twitter feed. They use passengers’ names when responding to complaints, which makes it feel like they actually care. They also have a consistent brand voice, one that is friendly, helpful, and seems to be genuinely apologetic when a customer is complaining.

I’ve never flown Jet Blue, since they don’t fly out of Louisville, but after seeing how their team responds on Twitter, I wouldn’t hesitate to give them a try.

American Airlines

American is one of the main U.S. carriers and is very corporate. This carries into their Twitter and the way that they respond to customer complaints.

One of the best things I learned in my sales class was that a lot of the time, customers just want to vent and know that someone cares about their problem. A quick way to upset them? Shirk responsibility and give vague answers. Case in point, this tweet, where American appears to completely ignore the customer’s question:

United Airlines

Ah, United. The airline we all loved to hate in 2017, after numerous scandals of passengers getting forcibly removed from planes (sometimes beaten up, too).

While the airline’s crisis communication team may or may not have improved as a result of last year’s scandals–only time will tell–their customer service team has definitely been taking notes from Southwest and Jet Blue. A quick look through their “Tweets & replies” shows that their team is friendly and sincere. They even use passengers’ names, à la Jet Blue, and sign their replies with their initials, just like Southwest.

Online reputation is a key component for companies today and airlines are no exception. While they may have gotten the short-end of the stick in some ways, a lot of airlines are using social media to get a reputation as personable, genuine, and caring.

The next time your flight is delayed, try tweeting your airline. You might be surprised by the results.

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